If you’re a Peloton devotee, you’ll recognize this week’s “Renaissance Man” guest as one of the most well-known, energetic fitness instructors in the game.
Though I personally know her as the very talented in-arena host for the Brooklyn Nets, she’s also a woman’s empowerment guru and model. But Ally Love had to fight very hard for every last bit of it because her potential was almost squashed during a tragic childhood accident.
“At 9 years old, I was hit by a car … almost died,” she told me. Ally was at a family barbecue when she and her cousins went rushing up to the ice cream man. After she scored her sweet treat, she looked both ways to cross the street. But it was simply bad timing. A parked car zoomed out from behind the ice cream truck and struck her.
“I was hit up in the air, landed on the hood of the car, rolled to the grass, broke my hip, cracked my teeth. I was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, it put my family through a very challenging experience, put myself through a traumatic experience,” she said.
She wasn’t able to have surgery right away because they needed to order equipment for someone her size.
“I was rushed to the hospital, but not to surgery. So I’m laying in the bed for seven days with a weight at the end of my leg, separating my femur bone from healing incorrectly. So as we were waiting for this, I was losing a lot of blood and again, it was looking bleak,” she said.
“And so it was this time where my mom was having that conversation with the doctor. She came back in and she said something that would forever change my life. She gave me an opportunity to make a decision about my life at 9 years old,” Ally told me. “I don’t think I would have the fortitude, the grace, nor would be able to give a child, let alone my child, the responsibility of making the decision … She told me, she said, ‘You can decide to let go and go on. Your father and I spoke, if that’s what you want to do, because it’s really hard. We understand. Or you can decide to pray to God and fight for your life. But what we know is that we can’t switch places for you.’ And so obviously that moment was pivotal. I decided to pray and to always fight for my life and never stop doing those two things.”
Even when she pulled herself through the most critical, dangerous moments, the doctors said she probably wouldn’t be able to run, let alone be an athlete.
But she shattered those expectations, pushing through physical pain and depression. Most people probably see Ally and think she was handed intelligence, a fit body, a great head of hair, and a positive outlook. In fact, she kept quiet about her accident until the pandemic forced her to do some self-reflection, and she realized just how much her accident affected her and powered her. She recently started sharing her ordeal hoping to inspire others.
“And so any time I’ve heard the word ‘no’ in school, I’ve heard the word ‘no’ in my career or physically, where I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I could do that.’ When I hear the word ‘no,’ I try to find the yes in there somewhere.”
The Miami native was home-schooled for a time, did a lot of physical therapy and she fell in love with dance and movement through a camp she attended. Ally was so good, she went to Fordham, where she majored in dance.
But there was always hoops in her life. She grew up a rabid fan of the Miami Heat, and that led her to pursue opportunities in the NBA. But don’t call her a Heat fan because she will correct you faster than you can say “Dwyane Wade.” She became a Knicks City dancer, which she said gave her “footing” in the league. She found a home with the Nets and now bleeds Brooklyn.
“I’ve never been a host before. And they said, ‘You know what, I’m going to bet on this girl.’ And they gave me the room, an opportunity to show up and have a voice in the arena to show up and to be a recognizable part of that organization.”
So I had to pose the question. Who really runs New York: the Knicks or the Nets? My short answer is the Knicks. Just before the playoffs, I was in a bar downtown where the television was showing an old Knicks game while the Nets were playing. People in the Big Apple would rather watch reruns of the Knicks than the Nets live. Ally is more diplomatic though.
“I don’t think anyone can silence the Knicks fan. I, you know, in all the years of not
having their best seasons, those Knicks [fans] do show up … I’m not taking away anything from them. So I know that I’m not going to sit here and say that we can silence the Knicks fans because they have legacy. We are building our legacy,” said Ally who is also planning her upcoming wedding.
We talked about her trademark afro, which she wears unapologetically (sometimes in an edgy mohawk) and styles with Bumble and Bumble curl cream. When she’s not in her spin shoes, she loves her sky high heels.
And Ally had a lot of praise for Naomi Osaka, who bowed out of the French Open after she was fined for refusing to do any media because it affected her mental health. But she had none for the NBA fans who threw objects at players early on in the playoffs. Though in her sunny, optimistic Ally way, she found a positive spin on it.
“The silver lining is that our community is stepping up saying, ‘Oh, not today,’ giving that [Dikembe] Mutombo finger … ‘This is not going down like this,’” she said. “And I think that that is the silver lining here is that while it is very disappointing, there is an upside for us to continue to shape the culture of the NBA in particular to individual teams and individual organizations to say, ‘That’s not who you are.’”
Ally does something that I always advise: Diversify and multitask in your professional life. Don’t get stuck in only one industry if you can help it. It’s a credo that I live by and she is mastering. Through her company Love Squad, she dishes out advice on fitness, health, career and life in general. She runs networking events to try and open up those avenues for other women.
Though she doesn’t know it, Ally convinced me that I need to hop on the Peloton bandwagon. I love to spin, but at 6-foot-8, it can sometimes be a challenge. It also hurts my backside when I am sitting on the seat. My friend and former ESPN “Countdown” producer Amina Hussein also recently joined the company as well, so I feel like it’s summoning me. Butt pain, and all.
Ally has been known to do an all Beyonce class, so if she promises to puts together a playlist of DMX and Eminem, me and my sore behind are ordering that bike yesterday.
Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, who shook up the college hoops world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA, before transitioning into a media personality. Rose is currently an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He executive produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book, “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion tastemaker, and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.
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