Miami Heat

Former Heat player Ray Allen finds Holocaust meaning in home with a hole

Ray Allen on the court.
Ray Allen on the court. File / 2014

For former Miami Heat three-point ace Ray Allen, the jarring scene that brought so much of the Holocaust’s lesson home for him wasn’t in a museum or former concentration camp. It’s in an actual Polish home.

In Allen’s essay for The Players' Tribune, “Why I Went to Auschwitz,” he describes the hole in a Polish home where the Skoczylas family successfully hid a Jewish family of six from the Nazis. The small house remains with the Skocylas family’s descendants, the Tadeuszes. Not much remained of the Skoczylas family after their neighboring snitches revealed their humanity to the Nazis.

“And as I walked through the rest of the house, this feeling sort of took over me,” Allen writes. “There was all this history right in front of me. And it was real. I could reach out and touch it. I could feel it between my fingers and smell it in the air. It was a tangible thing.”

Allen uses the hole in the home as a touchstone for questioning himself (”Would I have done the same?”) and addressing those who don’t share his view of how all peoples are connected as humans (”It seems like now, we only see us. We only want to look out for us. Whatever us even means. I think about the Tadeusz family. Who did they define as us?”).

Allen, long regarded by NBA media for a thoughtful worldliness as rare as his Hall of Fame shooting touch, is a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. He writes the Holocaust fascinated him as a teenager and he’s taken each team he’s been on to the Holocaust Memorial in Washington when the NBA schedule takes them there.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal