Grayson Allen is the son of Sherry and William Allen. The Duke basketball star grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. Despite neither of his parents working in or coaching basketball, Grayson took to the game at a young age. Grayson was a consensus top-40 recruit in the 2014 high school class and led Providence School to a 90-10 record with one state title and two state semifinal appearances, according to his Duke bio.
Grayson was an only child, however when he was a young boy, his parents took in one of Grayson’s friends from school who was given up by his mother. Tonan Ferrell was Grayson’s best friend growing up and the closest thing he had to a brother. Tonan continues to be a big part of Grayson’s life today.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Grayson Does Not Have Any Blood Siblings
Officially, Grayson is an only child. In 2017, he wrote about his family in an essay to The Players’ Tribune, which detailed the night Coach K came to visit in Jacksonville. “That was a big night in the Allen household,” Grayson wrote. “My whole family was nervous. Everything had to look perfect. Every room was cleaned. We dusted under all the lamps. We all put on our Sunday best. And my mom spent the entire afternoon preparing her signature dish.
Grayson’s mother made chicken scampi pasta that night for dinner with sweet tea and his aunt’s homemade cookies. “I remember just looking around in awe that night as we were all sitting around my family’s dinner table: Mom, Dad, Coach K, Coach Capel, Coach Wojo and me. When Mike Krzyzewski is in your dining room, I mean … that was all I could see,” Allen wrote.
2. He Grew Up With An Semi-Adopted Brother
A 2016 SI.com article revealed the unique story behind Grayson’s family and how they came to be a shelter for Tonan Ferrell, who was eight years old when his mother gave him and his older brother up for adoption. The two boys were transferred into the custody of their 18-year-old sister.
When Sherry and William Allen learned of the hardship, and that Grayson had a strong friendship with Tonan in school, they decided to act. SI.com reported: “But he’d come back again, and then again. And then there were afternoons and nights when he never left, which turned into stays that lasted months and years.”
The duo continues to share a strong friendship to this day. Tonan’s Instagram profile is filled with pictures of him attending Duke games with his parents.
3. Grayson’s Parents Want Him To Get A Diploma
Grayson surprised some people in 2017 by returning to Duke for his senior season instead of bolting early for the NBA. However if you are familiar with Grayson’s upbringing and how his family stressed the importance of education, it shouldn’t come as a surprise at all.
“From a young age, my parents and grandparents have always stressed the importance of academics,” Allen told the Duke Chronicle. “Getting a Duke degree has always been a goal and a dream of mine. For me coming back next season, it just gets me closer to that goal.”
4. Grayson’s Mother Sherry Is A Human Resources Manager
According to LinkedIn, Sherry Allen has worked in human resources for almost 20 years. She began her career in 2000 and worked eight years as a human resource manager for Flagler Development. After a three-year hiatus, Sherry returned to work in 2011 and spent one year at the Hope Haven Childrens Clinic & Family Center.
In 2013 she took over as the Human Resources Manager at North Florida Management Services. She accepted her current job in 2016 as the Director of Human Resources at Children’s Educational Services. The only employment information available about Grayson’s father William is that he is a government contractor.
5. Grayson’s Parents Do Not Think He Looks Like Ted Cruz
It became a popular joke amongst internet trolls during Cruz’s rise to popularity in the midst of the 2016 Presidential election. However Grayson and his parents weren’t laughing. “I don’t see it. I asked my parents, and the don’t see it either,” Grayson said.
Allen did add that others have given him a hard time about it. He also said that there are “about 200 different things or people that I look like” floating around on social media, including comedian Colin Mochrie.