On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant was named the National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the 2013-2014 season. He lead the league in scoring but never made more important points than when he delivered his words afterwards. It’s his incredible acceptance speech at the ceremony in Edmond, Okla., that is getting all the attention. Hopefully, adults and kids paused to take notice. It’s what an athlete, or matter of fact, every human being should attempt to emulate.
The first thing he did was thank God for “changing my life” and revealing to him what life is really about. When the camera focused on the face of his mother in the crowd, she already had tears in her eyes. Whether you believe in a Higher Being is irrelevant, Durant expressed the words and the attitude which put others before self.
Durant then described his life growing up. He said that he and his mom and brother moved to different places constantly as they struggled at what life had thrown at them. He didn’t sugarcoat the struggles of growing up in a home with a single mother trying to raise two boys on her own. “It felt like a box,” he said. “It felt like there was no getting out.”
The NBA all-star was emotional throughout his speech, at one point poking humor at himself for crying so much. Durant later delivered a moving tribute to his mother, Wanda Pratt, who he says was one of the most important influences on him growing up. What kid doesn’t need a strong parent to point him in the right direction.
“And last, my mom. I don’t think you know what you did,” he began, sniffling and wiping away tears. “You had my brother when you were 18 years old — three years later I came out. The odds were stacked against us; single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old. Everybody told us we weren’t supposed to be here.” As he recounted their trials and triumphs, Durant’s mother couldn’t help but cry — sometimes trying to smile at the same time.
Durant continued. “You made us believe, you kept us off the street, you put clothes on our backs, food on the table,” he added. “You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”
The timing was just right, a few days before Mother’s Day.
Let’s look around for opportunities to appreciate the sacrifices made on our behalf. A time not to be consumed by problems, but a time to stop and smell the roses in our lives. It’s what makes life worth living.
By Bob Simmons