By: Scott RossPublished: November 23, 2022

Bruce Hornsby

Happy birthday to Bruce Hornsby, who was born November 23, 1954, in Williamsburg, Virginia, and went on to be a Grammy-winning recording artist. More importantly, however, he also went on to help spring from jail Hall-of-Fame basketball player Allen Iverson and then beat the young man in a game of one-on-one*.

On Valentine's Day 1993, Iverson, then just 17, was at a bowling alley with some friends when a fight broke out. Iverson and two friends were arrested and Iverson was subsequently charged with "maiming by mob" for hitting a young woman in the head with a chair. But video soon surfaced that showed Iverson leaving the alley moments after the fight had broken out, well before the woman had been hit.

Hornsby, it turns out, was a huge hoop head and well aware with Iverson's budding career. When he heard about Iverson's arrest and incarceration, he reached asked his friend Spike Lee (yes, that Spike Lee) to send Iverson a care package, and also called Virginia Governor Doug Wilder to begin campaigning for Iverson's freedom. Four months into his sentence, Iverson was granted a pardon on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Two months after getting out of jail, Iverson had his high school basketball coach, Mike Bailey, call Hornsby to ask if the young man might visit Hornsby to express his gratitude for everything he'd done. It was during this visit that Hornsby defeated Iverson in one-on-one, though there were of course extenuating circumstances: 1) Iverson was fresh out of jail and probably not on top of his game and 2) they played what Hornsby terms "Piano Hands Rules," wherein there is no rebounding so as to protect Hornsby's moneymakers--his hands--from injury. From the sounds of it, Hornsby beat Iverson at something more akin to HORSE than one-on-one, but no matter, it's a better result than most mortal men could've hoped for.

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