CROMWELL – Before heading over to Kevin Ollie’s tournament at Glastonbury Hills, I stopped by the TPC at River Highlands on a gorgeous Monday morning, where Ray Allen was hosting his golf tournament.
It has been quite a summer for Allen, who turned 38 on July 20 and whose clutch three-pointer sent Game 6 of the NBA Finals to overtime, where the Heat won to stay alive. (A signed photo of Allen launching that historic shot was up for the charity auction.)
He ended up with another championship ring, and he has decided to go for one more. Then he appeared in Washington, before the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, to help raise awareness for the need to continue fund Diabetes research. Allen’s six-year-old son, Walker, suffers from Type 1 Diabetes.
Last week, in Hartford, he was on hand as new computer equipment was installed at the Wish School, the fruits of his, and the Ray of Hope Foundation’s labors on this important front.
Ray Allen’s career goes on and on. Basketball has given him a platform and he is determined to put it to good use.
Here are some highlights of our interview:
On his appearance before Congress on July 9:
“It’s two-fold. I go I n there as an NBA player that has a voice, a little power where I can help mobilize people. But more importantly, I’m a father that wants a cure for my son and his diabetes. So my hope going in there was to create enough noise to make people understand this is a serious disease and I live with it every single day, and to make sure no kids lose their lives because they were misdiagnosed and their parents understand the warning signs. Fatigue, dehydration, bed-wetting. The Senators got a chance to see the face of diabetes, these little kids who have nothing to do with why they have the disease. My son handles it in stride, but over the summer, he’s kind of bucking taking his medicine. He takes it, but I can tell he’s starting to grow and he wants to be over it. He’s angry. He sees other kids running off into the distance and not worrying about anything.”
On the need for computer upgrades in public schools.
“It was probably one of the things I’m most proud of that I’ve done in my career, to be able to able to take that and go back and stand in front of little kids and say ‘I want to help you succeed. I want to help you be the best you can be.’ … As a society, we’re failing our kids. We’re not putting the money in the right places. The things we love, we get addicted to – TV, sports – the money needs to go into school system. If government isn’t putting money in, private sector has a responsibility. We need to make sure our public schools are up to snuff, that all kids are getting the chance for a good education, not just our own.”
Any thoughts of “going out on top” with a ring?
“I take it one day at a time. Just one day at a time. …. I thought about [retiring]. I thought about it, getting away from it for two or three days, I thought about it. It gets harder and harder every year, but I just have to work a little harder to stay on top.”
His take on Kevin Ollie’s first year as head coach:
“I’m so proud of Kevin and the job he has done. I think about where he’s started, to where he is now. It’s so funny how – two years ago, we needed an assistant. Everybody was wondering what coach Calhoun was going to do. You’re never ready for anything of that magnitude – being a head coach, being a father, driving – all those things in our lives, you have to get thrown into the fire and you just kind of figure out as you go along. You have the greatest intentions to be great, and do well, and you make sure you lead. Kevin, I knew he’d do a great job. You’re not always promised great results, but the building of greatness is more important, that the people [you coach] are winners whether you win or lose. In college, we have to make sure we pay attention to kids, how they grow, what they learn, and Kevin is one of the best mentors a young person can have. He’s going to make sure he puts those messages into you, grows you, holds you accountable.”
On Donny Marshall, who is being considered for one of two alumni-chosen spots on UConn’s Board of Trustees:
“You look around the state, and who better to be a trustee? Donny is a University guy, very loyal and faithful to UConn. He played on a high level, he can handle the pressure. Those are the type of people you need. Young blood – the only way we can make the University better is by getting new ideas to the University, and people who can mobilize people. Donny’s on TV, he’s seen a lot, he has traveled. He speaks across America. You want that diversity on your board. Everybody’s goal on that board should be to make UConn best University out there.”
On getting former Huskies more involved with the program, the new facility, etc.
“Kevin has reached out to past players. I have to say, we didn’t do a great job of keeping the pros we have around the university. That’s one thing Kevin and I talked about when he took over, one thing we need to improve on getting out past players, ones in NBA and ones that aren’t, who are playing overseas, back in the fold, sharing all our future success. We can’t get recruits if they don’t feel as though they’re in a family system.”