Why this matters
Jerome Allen's path has not been an easy one. From growing up in the Philadelphia projects, to becoming an NBA coach, to pleading guilty to bribery and testifying in billion dollar lawsuit, he decided to tell his story his way.
While dealing with the consequences of his involvement in a major college admissions scandal, Jerome Allen still stepped up to his position as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics. Everyday, he went into work with a positive attitude and a mission to create a positive space for coworkers, athletes, and anyone else working in the facility. Despite incredible external and internal pressure, he says, “I never lost sight of my position on the team.”
For Allen, the Celtics not only reminded him of his purpose in life, but also of his value. He mentions that he has been blown away by Brad Stevens and the rest of the team, who have reassured him that he has a bright future as a professional coach. “I’m literally coaching NBA games with a location monitor on my ankle,” he says. “They’re compassionate and they’re supportive.”
The reassurance that Allen has received from the Celtics has been part of his motivation to write his autobiography, When The Alphabet Comes. “I didn’t think a lot of things would transpire the way they did,” says Allen. “So because of that, I just felt like I had to tell the truth in terms of what my emotional state was.”
In his book, Allen gets real about how throughout the trial, he felt angry, lost, and even suicidal. He says that throughout the writing process, he had attempted to cater his story to specific audiences and critics before realizing that it is an incredibly vulnerable and human story meant to be shared with everyone.
“I would say that Disney couldn’t have even written this script,” he says. “With some of the things that transpired through it all, I was like, ‘This is crazy.’ [It was] almost like I’m not a character in the story.”
As someone who was the case that served as the “genesis” for the Varsity Blues scandal, Allen certainly has an almost inconceivable story. As he follows the trials and sentences of celebrities like Lori Laughlin, he admits that he still finds himself wanting to say they got what they deserve. However, as someone who has gone through it himself, he demonstrates an incredible level of sympathy. Sometimes he wonders if he got the ironic “Hollywood ending.”
Yet it isn’t lost on Allen that there have been other collegiate coaches who have been involved in worse scandals and have received nothing more than a slap on the wrist. “That blows my mind,” he says. “They come right back and they get jobs.” With a 15 year sentence and a half year NCAA suspension, Allen states, “You might as well say my college career is over.”
Even though there is a grief that comes with this realization, Allen says that this entire process has tested his faith and has made him better for it. He is committed to sharing his story in hopes that it resonates with others who are struggling to come to terms with their own mistakes and find it within themselves to be better. He says optimistically, “I’m better. I’m a better leader. I’m a better husband. I’m a better coach.”
“I’m just better.”
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