Walter Ray Allen was born on July 20, 1975, to Flora and Walter Allen, a military couple stationed at Castle Air Force Base in Merced, California. He played high school basketball for Hillcrest High School in Sumter, South Carolina where he took his team to a high school state championship.
After high school, Ray went on to college at the University of Connecticut and has kept his New England roots, even while playing on the West coast for many years. At UConn, Ray finished No. 3 on the Huskies' career scoring list with 1,922 points and also set a UConn single-season record by hitting 115 three-pointers in 1995-96. Allen was the first UConn player ever to earn All-America recognition in back-to-back seasons and was named to AP's and NABC's Third Team as a sophomore in 1994-95.
As a junior, Ray was a consensus All-America First Team selection and was also named UPI's College Player of the Year. He was a unanimous All-Big East First team pick after averaging 23.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 3.3 apg in 35 games. He was named the 1996 Big East Player of the Year. On February 5, 2007 his number was retired at Gampel Pavilion on the University of Connecticut campus during halftime of the men's basketball game against the Syracuse Orangemen as part of the "Huskies of Honor" ceremony which recognized the accomplishments of 13 former players and three former coaches.
Ray was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fifth pick of the 1996 NBA Draft but was traded, along with a future first-round draft pick, to the Milwaukee Bucks for the rights to fourth pick which turned out to be Stephon Marbury. Allen enjoyed a strong rookie season with the Bucks, ranking third on the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game. He was the team's primary long-distance threat, shooting .393 from three-point range. Ray competed in the Schick Rookie Game during All-Star Weekend, scoring eight points in the contest. In addition, he became the first Buck since Paul Pressey in 1986 to compete in the Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk Contest. He was also named to the NBA's All-Rookie 1st Team. He won the 3 Point Shootout during All Star Weekend in 2001. During Milwaukee's 2001 playoff series with the Hornets, Ray painted his toenails green and purple for good luck.
He played for the Bucks for 7 seasons up until February of 2003 when he was traded to the Supersonics where he played for 5 seasons. In Seattle, he established many records and was one of the most popular players in the history of the franchise. On March 12, 2006, Ray became the 97th player in NBA history to score 15,000 points. On April 7, 2006, he moved into second place on the NBA's list of all-time three-point field goals made with only Reggie Miller ahead of him. On April 19, 2006, against the Denver Nuggets, Allen broke Dennis Scott's ten-year-old NBA record for three-point field goals in a season by sinking his 268th, a record he still holds.
He won a gold medal at the World University Games with the USA team in 1995. He was also named the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year in 1995. He continued his USA experience with another Gold Medal at the 2000 Olympic Games with the USA Team and won the Tournament of the Americas with the US team in 2003.
Along with his basketball accomplishments, Ray is one of the good guys in the NBA. He was named Sporting News "Good Guy" in 2000 and 2001. He is a member of the All-Star Advisory Council for the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA youth basketball support program. He is the NBA Spokesman for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. He initiated the "Ray of Hope" Foundation, which assists charities in several communities. He was given the NBA Joe Dumars NBA Sportsmanship Award in 2003.
Ray is a 12 handicap golfer and also bowls with an average over 150. His nicknames include Jesus, Sugar Ray, and The Silent Assassin. As almost every basketball fan knows, Jesus refers to Jesus Shuttlesworth, the character that Ray played in the 1998 movie, He Got Game, in which he starred along with Denzel Washington. Allen's character, Jesus Shuttlesworth, is a talented basketball player being pursued by the top colleges in the nation. Washington's character, Jesus' father, Jake Shuttlesworth, is a convicted felon serving time at Attica State Prison for accidentally killing his wife (Jesus' mother) by pushing her during an argument. The governor, an influential alum of one of the colleges Jesus is considering, temporarily releases Jake so that he might direct his son to sign with the governor's college. It is a movie worth watching if you like basketball movies. Ray could very well have had a career in acting.
Not as well known is that Ray starred in a second movie in 2001 titled Harvard Man, in which a basketball player strikes a deal with the mob to fix a basketball game. RA plays Marcus Blake in the movie. Also starring in the movie were Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eric Stoltz.
Last year leading up to the draft there were many discussions of who the Celtics would take with the 5th pick and a few trade proposals, but Danny surprised everyone with a draft night trade of Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak and the 5th pick that became Jeff Green for Ray Allen and the 35th pick that the Celtics used to grab Big Baby Davis. The trade made it very clear that the Celtics were building around Paul Pierce and were planning to win now rather than building for the future. At the time, Kevin Garnett and Shawn Marion had both said that they wouldn't sign an extension if they were traded to Boston and did not want to go there.
There was a lot of grumbling among the Celtics faithful because Delonte was a fan favorite and Ray Allen was 32 years old and coming off a double ankle surgery. It seemed as though it was a bandaid for what ailed the team and not a cure. But, as it turned out, Ray Allen was the key to the Celtics 17th championship. With Ray Allen in place beside Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett changed his mind and okayed the trade to Boston and the rest is history.
Ray seemed to struggle for much of the season, shooting below his normal percentage. At times during the season, Ray was the forgotten man but when the team needed him he came through. He hit a couple of memorable game winners during the season and when the playoffs came, Ray took his game to another level with very clutch play. Many felt it was Ray Allen who should have been the Finals MVP. In game 6 against the Lakers, he shot 8-12 from the field and 7-9 from beyond the arc, scoring 26 points, pulling down 4 rebounds and grabbing 3 steals in spite of worrying about his young son who was just diagnosed with diabetes the previous day.
One thing we learned about Ray Allen during the season is that he is borderline obsessive compulsive and depends on repetition and order in his world to function. His routine is very important to him and he follows it to the letter in his warmups and practice. It took awhile for the three stars to mesh their personalities and pre-game rituals but with some give and take from all of them, it all worked out.
This past August, Ray Allen married his long time girlfriend, Shannon Walker Williams at a private home in Martha's Vineyard. It was a very romantic wedding as they walked down the aisle on rose petals in their bare feet. They walked down the aisle to Brian McKnight's hit song, "Never Felt This Way" which was the song that Ray proposed to her with.
Kevin Garnett garnered most of the publicity during the season but make no mistake, the trade for Ray Allen was the key to the Celtics' 17th championship. Without Ray, there wouldn't have been a Kevin Garnett in Boston. He was the glue guy that held it all together and he came up big when it counted. People point to his age and question whether he can contribute this season but, Ray keeps himself in excellent shape and if this past season has taught us anything it is that you can never count Ray Allen out.