Iverson will pay funeral of violence victim
That's one of the reasons why once he read the story of Kevin Johnson, a southwest Philadelphia man who was shot in 2003 and left a quadriplegic by an assailant who demanded that he give up the Iverson jersey he was wearing, he felt he had to do something about it.
The "Answer" will pay for the funeral of Johnson, 22, who died at 4:40 a.m. Tuesday after his mother, Janice Jackson-Burke, removed him from life support.
“In fact, she just told me how much he loved me and how much he loved the Sixers and that she really appreciated it,” Iverson said Wednesday night, before the 76ers’ game against the Seattle SuperSonics, in his first public comment on the situation. “It was really sad to see that she had to say goodbye to her son.”
The Sixers' player said she invited him to her son’s funeral, which is Wednesday, but the Sixers will be in Milwaukee that day.
It's important to say that Johnson was seriously injured in 2003 after he was approached by five teens, one of whom shot him in the neck. He became an inspirational figure, speaking to schools and at rallies advising people to stay away from guns. He forgave his attackers.
Sadly, Johnson suffered irreparable brain damage last weekend after his breathing machine failed. His mother decided to take him off life support.
Iverson expressed once he saw Johnson’s story in the newspaper, he felt he needed to do something. Aided by his wife, Tawanna, who found the hospital where Johnson lay critically ill, he got in contact with Jackson-Burke and spoke to her and Kevin’s aunt.
“It's just that they didn’t have the financial support to be able to have the funeral like they wanted,” he admitted. “So I spoke to her and asked them: Could I do anything to help?
“I didn’t want them to asume I was trying to disrespect them by doing it for any publicity or anything like that. It was just something that touched me, and I felt I could do something to help. She appreciated it. I was very happy that she let me help.”
“It’s really terrible what’s going on in Philadelphia,” he said. “I just kind of felt like I’ve got to do something more than I have been doing to try to help this situation as much as I can. If I could reach just one person and take one death away, I think I’d be doing something. However, it’s not right in Philadelphia right now.”