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NBA legend Ray Allen spoke with Yahoo Finance's Brian Sozzi to discuss his partnership with Abbott on their FreeStyle Libre 2 device to help monitor his son's type 1 diabetes. Allen also discussed the Covid-19 pandemic's impact on the U.S. as well as the fight for social justice.
BRIAN SOZZI: OK, joining me now is two-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Ray Allen. Ray, good to see you this morning.
RAY ALLEN: Thank you for having me, Brian.
BRIAN SOZZI: All right, so your son Walker was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a very young age. Talk us through how-- what has it been like managing through that during the COVID-19 pandemic?
RAY ALLEN: His diabetes has been difficult for 13 years, because every day there's-- every day is a winding road. No day is like the other. We have to really pay attention to him. We have to keep eyes on him, and certainly over the past year during the pandemic.
I will say that it has been somewhat easier because he has been at home. The fact that he's at very high risk as a diabetes child, we've had to keep him home from school, so he's done everything online. And we've also had to keep it brother's home, because, obviously, we don't want them to be able to get sick and infect him as well.
So we've been able to manage him a little bit because the volatility of his numbers aren't so drastic. But now, we've had the fortunate pleasure of parterning up with Abbott and the FreeStyle Libre 2 which has allowed us to monitor his blood sugar numbers throughout the day. We don't have to prick his fingers as much to check what his blood sugar number is, his blood glucose numbers. And now we kind of have a little more confidence in moving forward with how he's dealing with or managing his diabetes on a daily basis.
BRIAN SOZZI: How did you come across this device?
RAY ALLEN: Well, we've always been advocates for diabetes. And my wife has sat on the board of the JDRF for years. And I was on the board of the Johnson Center in Boston. So we've always been huge advocates for finding a cure for diabetes, and raising awareness, and doing certain different types of events.
So you kind of connect with the community. When you become a part of the diabetes community, you meet people from all walks of life. And so we actually have a good friend that work for Abbott. So we've kind of understood what Abbott stands for, and then they reached out to us recently and asked if we'd love to partner up with them to raise more awareness for this new technology that has come onto the market.
We want more kids to have access to this technology. If you go onto FreeStyleLibre2.us, you can learn everything you need to learn about this product, about this technology. And there's also a 14-day trial for anybody who would love to see what it's all about and how it may help them live a better life.
BRIAN SOZZI: Help parents understand, parents that might be managing through this type of situation, children with diabetes-- how are you planning for Walker to get his COVID-19 vaccine? Have you talked to him about it? And is it something you're going to do?
RAY ALLEN: Well, we've had the conversation very extensively. It's been fascinating just watching the vaccinations either be developed as we come into understanding the percentage of efficacy that these drugs are able to help us in combating this pandemic. In the same token, with Walker dealing with diabetes, he's at such a high risk.
So I was trying to understand-- I've asked a lot of questions, a lot of doctors that have taken the vaccine, and how they feel, and how it will affect someone with already pre-existing conditions. So I would suggest most people who are in the same predicament just to ask a question, because everybody's body's different. And people who have had to vaccine, some people have fevers, some people feel lethargic, some people get a little under the weather. So really, it's us doing our homework and understanding what the effects will be on Walker going forward, which will determine at what point we'll allow him to get the vaccination.
BRIAN SOZZI: Ray, and perhaps I don't have to tell you this, the pandemic has really hurt underserved communities in this country in ways that are really, I would say, are unimaginable. What are you seeing out there? And what are your hopes for the new administration? W would you like to see for them to help get the help that these communities need?
RAY ALLEN: Well it's a systemic issue. If you think about the past administration, I think it was someone in the Trump administration has said that there was no systemic racism in this country. And to me, that was astounding, because all the issues that pervade to the inner city, it requires policies to change. It requires money to be spent in these cities.
For example, if you think about most inner cities, they're food deserts where, you know, Black and brown people don't have access to clean and healthier foods. And even furthermore, when you talk about medicine-- having access to medicine, there are some communities in the inner city and in Black neighborhoods throughout this country that are pharmacy deserts.
So even when you talk about this vaccine, there are some elderly in this community, in this country-- Black and brown elderly people-- that don't have the access to go to a pharmacy in a neighborhood to get the vaccine. So traveling across town to another community where one might not be able to drive or have access to transportation, this is one of the reasons why this pandemic has affected minorities so much more than other people.
BRIAN SOZZI: Ray, I was telling you before we came on here, you have one of the most thoughtful Instagram accounts that I, in fact, follow. And one of these comments that you made recently really stood out to me-- you said, quote, "we cannot let America be a country of two narratives." What are those two narratives? And what's your hope for the country now that we do, in fact, have a new administration in the White House?
RAY ALLEN: Well, I mean, I think it was evident the day of the-- I think it was January 6, the day of the Capitol siege when you see white people storming the Capitol, and police officers almost let them walk in there. And there was nothing done to them. And you know, it was a terrorist attack.
But yet when there were peaceful protests-- the peaceful protests over the years, over this past year due to police brutality and the killing of Jacob-- George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, and the shooting of Jacob Blake, people wanted to express their displeasure and ultimately were met with National Guard, with police.
They talked about-- Trump even said it himself, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. But yet he encouraged this into the Capitol on January 6. So you see the two differences in America and how there's governing done differently over the black people when they protest. And protesting is the American way. This is how our country was built. You know, when there's been situations that have arisen over the course of this country, you know, the people have to step up and speak their piece in order to change the status quo and to make this America a better America for all people.
BRIAN SOZZI: How do you think-- President Biden has talked a lot about healing the country. How does that healing happen?
RAY ALLEN: First off, people have to listen. People have to be willing to understand. In a compromise-- this compromise, you have to give something up. You don't get everything that you want. This country, it's not Democrat, Republican. We're far too embroiled in political parties right now where we want people from our party, from another party to either win or lose.
This country, we've played this game, and it starts with the people in elected positions. They only care about winning. It's about making this country a better place. And it's important that our politicians put their insignificant beefs and immaturities aside so we can actually see them work together.
You're calling for unity in the congress. In the Senate, they're calling for-- in the House and Senate, they're calling for unity amongst the American people, but yet they don't get along in government. You know, you're setting an example of how people should live, how people should behave, how people should get along, and for the longest, the vitriol, the dissension, the misinformation that Trump spewed over the past couple of years, that trickled down to the American people and the people who were passing laws for us. And now it is time for us to use language that accepts and brings all people together.
BRIAN SOZZI: Do you think athletes need to do more to help heal the country? Not everyone has stepped up over the past year, but some have-- LeBron James certainly top of mind. He has made, really, a series of strong statements. Do you think it's time that the athletic world do more?
RAY ALLEN: I don't just put the complete pressure or accountability on athletic world. I think we have a platform because people follow us, they listen to us, and they respect us. And you follow an athlete because that person is captain of his industry, and he works hard, and he inspires you to do what you need to do.
Not all people have a voice to lead. So there are so many people that have platforms. The one thing that bothers me the most about people-- because you always say, they. We start with, they need to do something. And so people are always easy to give the responsibility to someone else-- someone famous, someone with a lot of money, someone with a lot of followers on Instagram.
But they is you. If you've gotten into your 20s, and onto your 30s, and then above, you're they. You're watching the world unfold in front of you, and you're responsible for it. You can't sit back and say, Oprah Winfrey should do it, because she has $1 billion. Like, that's just not her sole responsibility.
And she might not be as philanthropic-- even though she is, but some people who are wealthy just don't have the voice. They don't have the directionality. And some people just have a lot of money. it doesn't make them smarter, it doesn't make them more enlightened or educated on certain topics. It's those people who care to learn and pay attention.
And it doesn't require a huge platform. You develop that platform because you have a voice. People think you got to get the platform first, and then all of a sudden you have the voice to be able to speak. No, this is cultivated over time. And so if you have seven followers on Instagram, on social media, Twitter, whatever it may be-- like, speak to those seven people.
Encourage them to live a better life, to make the world a better place, to bring all people together. Because think about the person who affected Joe Biden as a kid, or Barack Obama, or John F. Kennedy-- like, you think about the people who affected them positively to make them think greater than themselves. A man has to be willing to plant a tree whose shade he'll never sit under.
And so everybody should live with that motto, because you drive down a street, you work in a building, you drive over a bridge, you travel in an airplane or in an airport, where someone incredible created these ideas, and now we get to use them.
BRIAN SOZZI: I'll leave it there. I really appreciate your positivity, Ray Allen. And I wish you, your family, your son, Walker-- it's really great to see what you're doing with Abbott. I'm glad he's safe, sound, and healthy. Please do stay in touch.
RAY ALLEN: FreeStyleLibre2.us-- check it out. You guys want to understand it, and if you're dealing with diabetes, this is something that's helped my family tremendously, and it certainly will help yours. Thank you.