John was born in Birmingham, Alabama on September 29, 1970 to John and Maureen Allen. Eighteen months later, little brother Michael would come along and the two were destined to be life long best friends. John’s family enjoyed a happy and loving home and the spiritual heritage he was entrusted with would bear fruit throughout his life.
John attended Minor Christian School where he excelled in basketball. And it would be on the basketball court that he would first lay eyes on his life long love, Karri Lingo, a cheerleader for Bessemer Academy, the opposing team. They would begin dating shortly after this first encounter and were together from that point forward twenty-four years, eventually getting married on May 15th, 1993.
The friendship, love, and laughter that John and Karri shared was unique, a beautiful example of how God can make two lives into one and a powerful testimony to the joy that can be found in a marriage built upon Christ.
After high school John got involved with the mortgage business, working at Compass, where he would later get Michael a job, and then eventually Am South, and Regions among others. But John’s dream was to work fulltime with basketball. So although he was already coaching a highly successful AAU travel team, when the opportunity arose for John to be the Alabama State Director of Youth Basketball of America, he was quick to accept the challenge. John would go on to developed the Alabama state chapter into a thriving organization that hosted as many as 115 teams in fourteen different gyms for basketball tournaments.
For John, his work was not just a job or a passion, it was a ministry and he would go the extra mile whenever necessary, even sometimes picking up and dropping off underprivileged children so they could participate in his summer camps. Shortly after John’s passing, Michael told me that the family had already received 500 responses to the news of John’s home going describing the multitude of ways John had impacted lives of young men.
John also served as the head varsity basketball coach at Shades Mountain Christian School, another ministry that he dearly loved. The day he found out that he had a spot on his chest, John drove himself to Talladega to coach his team to a win in the state tournament. Two weeks later he coached his final game, a highly competitive regional competition against St. Jude. Afterwards he was so weak he had to be helped to the car.
For the past two years John received the Hoover Coach of the Year award for his impact and leadership of the Shades Mountain program. But as much as John loved coaching other people’s children, his favorite athlete was his son Jonathan, who he coached playing baseball, soccer, and of course, basketball. John and Jonathan were best buddies and they loved being together. Whether it was fishing or playing in the sand at the beach or on their annual family trip to Disney World, John and Jonathan made a lifetime of precious memories together. Talking with family members and friends, there are so many things that could be said to describe the incredible life of John Allen.
He was a good and faithful son, a big brother that was looked up to, even when little brother was taller, a devoted and attentive husband, a loving and committed father, an example, coach and inspiration to so many. And he will be missed by all.
This past Monday, July 23rd 2012 John left behind a body broken by cancer and suffering and entered into the perfect presence of his Savior where there are no more tears and no more pain. John has entered into Christ’s rest, he has received his eternal reward, and he now looks into his Savior’s face. We give God thanks for the life and legacy of John Allen.
Handout: In Memory of John Allen