PORT ARTHUR —
There’s not much that scares Ty Allen, except the idea of not being able to play basketball. That’s exactly what almost happened.
Allen, a freshman guard at Lamar State College-Port Arthur, grew up in the mean streets of Chicago. It was there that he battled for a reputation and a spot on the basketball court, whether it was the hardwood in high school or the concrete court in the streets.
“I was always the young guy playing with the older guys,” Allen said. “I wanted to prove I could be as good as anyone and I knew that I had to be out there fighting for that reputation.”
Through high school he solidified his rep with his name appearing in the Chicago Tribune for the state-ranked Rich South High School Stars. His senior season he averaged 11 points, 5.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2 steals per game and led his team to the Illinois Sweet 16. He was the complete player and the recruiters knew it.
Xavier University, a Division I NAIA school, came calling and Allen answered with the promise of an all-conference performance for the New Orleans school.
Fate had other plans.
Allen began having back spasms that left him, at times, crippled on the sidelines. An MRI confirmed a diagnosis – a bulging disc in his back.
“They performed an epidural and that helped but I had to lay out,” Allen said. “It was frustrating. I wanted to be out there and I couldn’t.”
He dutifully battled the physical part of his medical roadblock but it was the psychological aspect that at times had him considering his future without basketball.
“There were times when I got depressed, when it got so hard that I just didn’t know if I wanted to keep dreaming about my future in basketball,” he said. “But when that happened, I would get my head together and get back on track. I couldn’t let that stop me.”
Allen received a medical redshirt in order to preserve that season’s eligibility. He continued as a student, taking classes part-time. Through his slow recovery, often alone in a gym, Allen worked in pursuit of his goals.
“I kept working out, trying to stay strong,” he said. “I wasn’t going to give up.”
However, it was something more than just his dreams that spurred his recovery. His mother had lost her job and had difficulty finding work.
“I knew I had to get back on the court,” he said. “I knew that one day I had to make money doing this. It was up to me to take care of my mom.”
Once he was back in good health, Allen decided not to return to Xavier, an NAIA school. Instead, he set his sights on Division I NCAA. His first stop, though, would be in Port Arthur.
“Coach Madison called me and eventually he offered me a full ride to come here and play,” Allen said. “I was glad to have a scholarship and I knew this would be my first step to making it to the next level.”
His goals are undoubtedly big – Junior College All-American, No. 1 in scoring in the nation, a full ride to a major university after this season. His conviction is enough to convince anyone that it all can be done. His talent makes up for any nagging doubts.
Allen is currently ranked 20th in NJCAA Division I in the nation for scoring average with 20.9 points per game. His 146 total points in seven games is 36th best in the nation.
His high-flying, acrobatic style of slicing his way to the basket, playing with complete abandon this season shows Allen is still not scared of anything.
“I want to do big things while I’m here in Port Arthur,” Allen said. “But before you talk about All-American or top scorer or any of that stuff, you have to put ‘winner’ and that’s what we’re all working for here. We’re a team dedicated to the same goal … being champions.”
PORT ARTHUR —
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