Only the Strong Survive: Allen Iverson & Hip-Hop American Dream

Only the Strong Survive: Allen Iverson & Hip-Hop American Dream

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by Larry Platt

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Part sports star, part antihero, part hip-hop icon, Allen Iverson has managed to cross over into the mainstream of American culture -- without compromise. Defiantly tattooed, with his hair in cornrows, the six-foot Philadelphia 76ers point guard is one of the most recognizable and controversial stars of the sports world. His meteoric rise from a troubled childhood

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Part sports star, part antihero, part hip-hop icon, Allen Iverson has managed to cross over into the mainstream of American culture -- without compromise. Defiantly tattooed, with his hair in cornrows, the six-foot Philadelphia 76ers point guard is one of the most recognizable and controversial stars of the sports world. His meteoric rise from a troubled childhood in the ghetto to NBA superstardom has been marked by five straight playoff appearances, including a finals berth in 2001 and an MVP award. From his rap sheet to his rap album, fans and journalists alike hound his every move. But never before has a biographer presented a full portrait of this complicated and intensely private star -- a man whose loyalty to his family, the streets, and his friends trumps any other concern. Filled with exclusive interview material and unprecedented access to many of Iverson's inner circle, Only the Strong Survive is the first in-depth look at the truth behind this newly minted legend.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Like his subject, Platt is at his best while running the court, his prose smooth and economical as he describes Iverson's explosive, creative playing style. A longtime journalist whose sports writings have been collected in New Jack Jocks: Rebels, Race and the American Athlete, Platt writes with an authority that Iverson fans will appreciate. But the compelling rags-to-riches biography of the controversial NBA superstar is bogged down by Platt's repetitive, heavy-handed critiques of the relationship between black athletes, their marketers and the media. Platt repeatedly outlines how white middle class America is not yet ready for Iverson's hip-hop persona, which is "too in-your-face, too black"-a provocative yet unoriginal insight that quickly grows old. Intent on portraying Iverson as a misunderstood truant with a heart of gold, Platt misses the opportunity to create a thorough, insightful portrait. In doing so, he succumbs to the very weakness he criticizes in so many of his fellow journalists: losing the player to the hype. 16-page color insert with b&w photos throughout. (Nov. 1) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers' enigmatic and brilliant point guard, has attracted a lot of attention from authors and sportswriters alike. Many of the books are for young adults (e.g., Mark Stewart's Allen Iverson: Motion and Emotion) and do not address the more interesting and important aspects of the Iverson phenomenon. Here is one of the first basketball books available to deal with race in a straightforward manner. Not only does Platt (New Jack Jocks: Rebels, Race, and the American Athlete) examine the various ways white players and National Basketball Association brass have reacted to Iverson's controversial style but he considers the reactions of older black players as well. The author's discussion of race and culture in the modern NBA is just as interesting as the nuanced and detailed story of Iverson's dramatic life and career. (With his father in prison for manslaughter, Iverson spent his childhood in such terrible poverty that he lived in a house without adequate running water until his late teens.) Platt had remarkable access to the most important people in Iverson's life as well as to the elusive man himself. Written in a lively style and with something meaty for anyone who reads it, this book is recommended for all sports collections.-James Miller, Springfield Coll., MA

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Larry Platt is the editor in chief of Philadelphia magazine and the author of Keepin' It Real: A Turbulent Season at the Crossroads with the NBA. His work has appeared in GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Playboy, and Details. He lives in Philadelphia.

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Only the Strong Survive: The Odyssey of Allen Iverson 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
danhollar57 More than 1 year ago
The powerful tale of The Answer, Allen Iverson, was truly a remarkable biography and really captures his true image. Growing up, Allen Iverson has been one of my favorite athletes, and to learn more about him and what he has gone through to get where he is now, it has been a phenomenal read. The Answer was labeled by most as a thug, or a gang member by the public. He had an attitude that knew he was going to be one of the greatest athletes in football or basketball. He was that good. Iverson grew up in Newport News, VA which was a very rough area. Lot of gang violence, and drugs on the streets. A lot of Iverson's friends have been killed in Newport News due to gang violence. He had a lot of difficult obstacles to overcome in the slums of Newport while he was dominating on the court and football field. People from his hometown saw a bright future in Iverson. He was a star quarterback and one of the best athletes Virginia has ever seen. Also he was averaging 31 points a game as a junior in basketball! A night at the bowling alley changed everything. Allen and his friends got into a brawl with a white crew of guys. Allen was accused of hitting a girl in the head with a chair during the brawl. He was sentenced to 15 years improsment with a 10 year supension, but with good behavior he was out in 10 months. After all the drama, Iverson was offered a scholarship to Georgetown university where he proved to everyone why he was the number 1 prospect in the USA. He left for the NBA his sophmore year and he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. Allen went on to dominate the league goin to the NBA finals and becoming the MVP. Through all the hardships in his life, Allen overcame losing close friends, getting in trouble with the law, and is now what I belive one of the best players to play in the game. He is a spectacular example of someone who comes from a troubled environment that they can make it up out the hood if they have the talent and the determination to get there. I extremely enjoyed the author's voice he realy made you feel what The Answer felt throughout his life and carreer. If you are a sports fan or just love an inspiring story I highly recommend Only The Strong Survive. It really brings home the bacon and fries it in the pan for all sports fans without a doubt. I disliked how the author showed how he made AI look bad in some situations, although he was in trouble he seemed to exaggerate some of the crimes. All in all this book really shows that, for a guy with a rough image, rough childhood, and so difficult obstacles, you can still conquer them and become successful in whatever you try.
dcross03 More than 1 year ago
It is no stretch of the imagination to label Allen Iverson as one of the most controversial players to ever play in the NBA. A majority of people who have heard of Allen Iveson are quick to call him a thug, and a cocky player with no work ethic. A couple moments that helped put this label on him was his fashion choice when accepting his rookie of the year award, where he wore a Reebok skull cap, and his famous press conference after he missed another practice I which he said, "I am a champion and we are sitting here debating practice. Practice?" It would be easy to label Allen Iverson as the villian to the game of basketball, but in Only the Strong Survive: The Odyssey of Allen Iverson, author Larry Platt shows Iverson in a much more positive light. Allen Iverson was a freak of an athlete as a kid. He starred on the football field as well as the basketball court in high school and his amazing athletic ability was the one thing that saved hima nd his family from the poor streets of Newport News, Virginia. His life changed completely the day after he decided to enter the NBA Draft and leave Georgetown University behind. Taken as the first pick of the 76ers in 1996, Iverson instantly became one of the top players in the league. However, even though he was one of the most respected players on the court, he was the least off it. Many people disapproved of his gangster looks and the way he carried himself outside the gym. Nevertheless, fans of the NBA eventually fell in love with not only Iverson's play, but also the person himself. Larry Platt does a great job of giving the inside story on Iverson's life. He uses a lot of memories as examples from Iverson's life as if they were his own. He also used various statistics from Iverson sports career to describe the way he played, telling you that he really did his research. In addition, the book was very dramatic seeing as Iverson had a very dramatic life story. The only thing that brought down the overall enjoyment of reading the book was the author repeatedly playing the race card. It seemed like almost every time Iverson had some sort of problem Platt would write something like, "they were against him because of the color of his skin", or something similar. Nonetheless, Only the Strong Survive is still a great read for any Allen Iverson fan, or even any sports fan.
chrishyland More than 1 year ago
In Only the Strong Survive, we learn about the struggles Allen Iverson had to overcome to get out of the ghetto and into the NBA, becoming one of the league's top players, and also one of the league's most controversial players to ever play the game. The major message in this book is to never give up, no matter how low you get and how hard your life becomes, because only the strong survives, and you have to be strong to get through the struggles life throws at you. I loved this book because Allen Iverson is one of my favorite players and I learned a lot of things about his life, and his struggles in his early years, that I never knew about. It was hard to find something about the book that I didn't like, but the one thing that I disliked was the beginning of the book. I found it was hard to follow who the author was speaking about, but after the first chapter it became easier and I couldn't put the book down. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good "rags to riches" story of a young kid with a lot of potential, but a lot of troubles surrounding him. If I had to rate this book on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best, I would give it a 9 1/2. So if you're looking for a great novel, pick up Only the Strong Survive, and you'll get hooked from the beginning all the way to the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Believe me I've read many Allen Iverson books and by far this is the best one. I absolutely adore this book!! It's a great biography and i think that it shows so much about his life. I've read this already 5 times (i love Allen Iverson) and it's just really great. If you have to do like a report or something on someone this really gets inside of who he really is and how people take him on the outside and in. I highly recommend this!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Allen Iverson...He is one of my favorite NBA stars. I really liked reading this book because it shows the struggle everyday people go through. It really tought me to appreciate everything I have, and the people I have surrounding me that love me and try to help me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was honest and more detailed than most books about athletes. It did not sugar-coat or villanize the subject. For the most part it just presented situations and let the reader be the judge. There were some things in the book that made you not like AI and there were things that made you really like AI. In the end, I think the book really captured who AI is: A work in progress, an honest guy who plays with enormous passion and lives the same way. What makes him interesting is his unpredictability. His life off the court seems like the one on the court. You never know his next move. Yet you never doubt his confidence and self-awareness. This is a very good book for AI fans and anyone interested in knowing the details of his seemingly tumultuous life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nods. "Let's take that back to the clearing and then you can tell Ebonypaw about advantiges and disadvantiges." (She just got back.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She nods, carrying the dead bird in her mouth. She pads back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We aint talking about a game but practice. Lol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don know i crazy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Davario More than 1 year ago
In Only the Strong Survive. I've learned about then struggles Allen Iverson had to overcome to get out of the bad neighborhoods, and into the NBA. He became one of the leagues top players. He also is one of the leagues most controversial players to ever play at the point guard position. I think the message of this book is to never give up no matter what goes on and what happens. Older guys are quick to judge A.I. by his appearance. Soon fans started to love Iverson for is skills and personality. He decided to enter draft, his life slowly starting changing. Allen Iverson was drafted first round first pick to 76ers in 1996. Iverson instantly became top player. Platt had pictures of all his tattoos and described them. Iverson is a great player on and off the court. If you want to know more detail go read is book, ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVES.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This Book Is Brilliant If You Want to Know the Real Allen Iverson You Have to Read this Book!!! Great Source Of Information...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
do u think a 12 yrs old should read this allen iversons great but i dunno if i should really read this. The only really thin i`m looking for is will it inspire me or will it bring to you NBA basketball in pages plz email me at
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting to me and very intriging to my future and i look up to allen iverson because he is a player that never gives up on a challenge and believes in his team
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book about Allen Iverson for several reasons: it was very interesting, I love A.I., it told me so much more about him that I didn't know and I felt I really could appreciate what he does for the game. He is a great player and one that should be admired by many, not just because of his great basketball skills, but also as a model for others to prove that anyone can overcome anything if they are strong enough and driven as much as he was. Please read this book if you have any doubts about his 'character'. Larry Platt's bio of A.I. will not leave you disappointed!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It gave me a new perspective on a superstar talent that I was already admiring for his wonderful talent as well as how much tragedy and problems he had to go through growing up. Anyone who just calls him a 'bad role model' as many of my teachers and adults I know claim he is should read this book to find out who he really is. The one thing I love about this book is that it shows how true to himself he stayed. I haven't read a more indepth book on Allen Iverson and love the stories that Larry Platt included. I suggest this book to anyone who appreciates the game and does/doesn't appreciate Allen Iverson. Because you will after you have read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would love to read this book can someone tell me if it is cape able for a 12 year old to read this book who is in sixth grade i have lots of books of him I am his biggest fan i have every shoe of his sorry for getting of the topic
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really changed the perspective I have given Allen Iverson. I just thought he was a good ball player but a punk. This book explains how he grew up with a goal. Get outta the ghetto and save his mom. The only way was sports. Good book highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best I've ever read. It made me respect him even more... if thats possible. Like him or not, u gotta respect him after reading this book. It's amazing. Iverson is #1
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story describing Allen Iverson's life is real, and it feels like you were there to see him being raised before your eyes. You also see how he has made it today. Reading this book you will relise that if he had one misfortune in his childhood you wouldnt know who he is today. Simply this book will leave you in aw.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An amazing story about the best basketball player in the world. If you don't like Allen Iverson, you will respect him after reading this book. It gets to your heart and you feel like you know A.I in a way other people can't if they dont read this book. Bastekballs fans would truly enjoy it. A.I is #1 in my book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Allen Iverson Story is a story that every kid that has ever picked up a basketball should read. If U think U have it bad then read this story about ALLEN IVERSON (The Greatest Basketball Player Of ALL TIME!)
Guest More than 1 year ago
i love iverson i never actually read this book but ai is so amazing....