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Gloves Off: Isaiah Davis-Allen

The National Lacrosse League is home to the best box lacrosse players in the world. They are at the top of their game, put on stellar athletic performances and have diehard, competitive attitudes. 

With lacrosse action suspended until the pandemic has subsided, NLL players have been missing the game fiercely. Thankfully, they have stayed busy in their day-to-day lives. They’ve spent more time with friends and family, honed different types of skills, and remained grounded during this tumultuous moment in history. 

Gloves Off is a 13-installment series that peels back the layers of our athletes to uncover more about their lifestyle and personal lives, learning about their hobbies, passions and more, with the goal of making them inherently more relatable to their fans. 

There are two kinds of motorcycle riders, says Isaiah Davis-Allen. Either you HAVE fallen off, or you WILL fall off.  

Thankfully, Davis-Allen has only fallen off his motorcycle once, after stopping too hard on his rear brake. He was uninjured except for some major road rash.  

“I was very glad to be wearing all my safety gear,” he says. 

The motorcycle lifestyle was bred into the Philadelphia Wings’ defender as a child. His grandfather and father before him were also gearheads. By the time he was in high school, Davis-Allen was driving his own CVR 600 Sportsbike, which he describes as “fun, zippy and fast!” 

These days, he’s on a 2014 Street Glide, a classic Harley Davidson. He traded in his 2005 Softail for the bigger bike that features more power and a much better sound system. This bike is “low, slow and loud,” and has a seat that feels like a couch cushion so it’s a more comfortable ride for both he and his girlfriend. 

He drives both to clear his head, and because it’s just plain fun. 

“I’m more comfortable on a bike than I am in a car,” he says. “It’s one thing to drive through a beautiful placeit’s another thing to ride through it. I don’t just see it – I can smell it and feel it. I can tell when I’m going from the mountains in Western Maryland, how that smells, to the Eastern shore. Here in Baltimore I can drive three hours either way and be up in the mountains or on a beach.” 

The Eastern shore near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is one of his preferred destinations. 

“I love riding down the coastline,” he says. “If I’m not coaching, I’ll put down 200 miles a weekend. I don’t mind the cold, so it’s a yearround hobby.” 

Davis-Allen is a project manager for Buch Construction when he’s not playing lacrosse or riding the bike, and he’s found a group of friends who he can ride with, including one of his superintendents. 

“George and I will go putter around and find cool places. We’re going to explore some of the national parks in Pennsylvania because there’s no helmet rule there so we can lean back and soak it in.” 

He says his family doesn’t worry about him out on the bike since it’s been bred into him. 

“Don’t be too heavy on your front brake; don’t ride in the middle of the lane; don’t ride in cars blind spots,” he recites. 

Davis-Allen’s grandfather was a member of the US Air Force, stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY, and he’d race motorcycles there. “Old school Hardtails and Sportys. That’s what started the gearhead itch in my family.” 

He says that the biker culture can be misunderstood. 

“When my dad was growing up it was a way rougher crowd but now it’s a lot more accessible than it used to be. Harley’s coming out with eco-friendly motorcycles that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with biker culture so I think that whole stigma is changing. 

Davis-Allen recognizes that a lacrosse player riding a motorcycle isn’t all that common. 

“All my teammates probably think it’s stupid,” he laughs. “They don’t necessarily love it, but they know that it’s a part of me. I’m a guy that marches to the beat of his own drum.” 

He says teammate Matt Rambo is “always telling me to back off the throttle and put it away, but he just wants me to be safe. 

The pair are not only good friends; they were also roommates at the University of Maryland and won a national championship together in 2017 with the Terrapins 

Davis-Allen joined the Wings in 2018 and played four games his rookie season before becoming a counted-on defender in his second season. Until then, he’d mostly played field lacrosse. 

“Box lacrosse is the best version of lacrosse,” he says. “It’s fast and the ball stays in. To me it was the game of the future. It was also an opportunity for me to travel to places I never would have gone to.” 

In 11 games in 2019-20, he contributed five assists and scooped up 33 loose balls. 

“The coaching staff take the time and help me learn the game the right way. My teammates have been awesome as well, taking the time to explain certain things about the game that they know from growing up playing box.” 

Davis-Allen hails from Springfield, Virginia, but stayed in Baltimore after college. There, he volunteers his time with different sports programs aimed at helping at-risk youth.  

“I hear it all the time – the first thing people think of when they hear Baltimore is violence. It’s an awesome area but there’s definitely a youth development/education/socio-economic/poverty issue here. The school system is 96% Black. For me, being in the place that I’m at, doing the work that I do and playing the game at a high level, I try to give back to the community as much as possible. 

Much of his free time is spent coaching various youth programs. 

“When some of my other pro buddies who are white come here and try to coach, it’s just different. For people who aren’t from an area like that, it’s striking,” he says. “I’m trying to get those kids more exposure to the game.” 

He runs camps and clinics for Harlem Lacrosse of Baltimore, helps with events run by SOY (Saving Our Youth) and sits on the board of Winners Lacrosse in DC. 

SOY isn’t necessarily sports based – “they put on events to merge the gap between the community and the police officers that serve it,” Davis-Allen says. 

With Harlem Lacrosse and Winners Lacrosse, “I try to talk with the kids and inspire them to play the game at the next level and let them know that college is achievable. He says that now they look up to star basketball players like Kevin Durant, from DC – but perhaps one day the kids will be able to see Davis-Allen in that same superstar light.