When Kevin Durant, Prince Georges County native and National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar, stepped up to the microphone May 6 to accept the league’s Most Valuable Player award for 2014, he turned the attention to his mother.
Durant voiced gratitude for his Oklahoma City Thunder fans, teammates, coaches and staff, but capped the 25-minute acceptance speech with a tearful tribute to his mother, Wanda Pratt, who raised him and his brother in Seat Pleasant, Md. as a single mother, working as a postal service mail handler.
“When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP,” the center said to his mother, in front of a packed house for the award ceremony at the team’s old practice facility.
"Single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old," Durant said. “Everybody told us we weren't supposed to be here. We moved from apartment to apartment by ourselves. One of the best memories I had was when we moved into our first apartment. No bed, no furniture, and we just all sat in a room and just hugged each other. We thought we'd made it."
Durant’s emotional remarks came after leading the league in scoring for four of the last five years and after a regular season in which he averaged 32 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists, leading his team to a 59-23 won-loss record. The award was his first league MVP award.
He has developed a reputation for community service, locally and in Oklahoma. “I come from a small county outside Washington D.C., called PG County” Durant said. “Me, my mom and my brother moved so many different places growing up. It felt like a box, it felt like there was no getting out. My dream was to become a rec league coach. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay home and help the kids out.”