Former players rally behind South Bay basketball coach who lost gym, home due to COVID-19 pandemic
He taught his players the value of fighting through adversity and now those same athletes are coming together to help him through his tough times.
A good mentor is someone who can change your life forever.
For former Cal and professional basketball player Derek King, that person was his basketball coach Mike Allen.
“He saw talent that was not yet discovered and he was ready to work with me and be patient,” King said. “Not only on the pitch, but off the pitch, he mentored me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, I would say that for sure.”
Coach Allen recently coached at De Anza College in San Jose after a playing career.
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As a former professional player himself, Coach Allen created his “Mike Allen Sports” and opened his own gym.
If the players could not afford services, he would allow them to do community service instead.
His goal was to teach athletes the skills necessary to be successful on and off the field.
Allen didn’t know that the lessons he was teaching should be applied to his own life.
Last year, Coach Allen suffered some of the worst casualties of his life.
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He received three difficult health diagnoses that made it difficult to train for basketball and even to walk.
Then, with the closure of sports and no income from “Mike Allen Sports”, he lost his home, his program and his gym.
“It was very difficult. I started to see the challenges that I was facing, that was what I was helping everyone with,” Allen said. “Dealing with mental health issues, dealing with emotional stress and dealing with depression. I never knew what it really looked like.”
After seeing their coach at such a low point, former players and parents set up a GoFundMe account to help him get back to doing what he loves.
The group quickly raised over $ 9,000.
“It says a lot about the type of person he is,” King said. “Just the fact that the community is coming together to try and help them, I’m not surprised by that.”
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While he was always grateful for the help, Coach Allen didn’t want his story to be sad.
He strives to fight adversity every day, just as he has taught his athletes.
“If I gave up and someone found out that I had given up and gave this message, I couldn’t live with myself,” Allen said. “So that’s what made me keep pushing, moving towards my goals and my gifts.”
A champion’s heart, no matter the defeat.
To donate to the effort to help Coach Allen, you can visit the GoFundMe page here.
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