Humility & Greatness Aren’t Mutually Exclusive


Kevin Durant wasn’t supposed to be here.

“I come from a small county outside of Washington, D.C.” Durant explained as he stood at the podium on Monday afternoon to accept his first NBA MVP award. “Me, my mom, my brother, we moved so many places growing up and it felt like a box; it felt like there was no getting out.”

The 25-year-old superstar has ascended to historical greatness, but he traveled a long and difficult road to get to that podium.

There’s plenty that Durant could have chosen to discuss about his incredible season – his streak of scoring 25 or more points in 41 straight games, eclipsing Michael Jordan’s modern-day record; how he became only the fifth player in NBA history to win four or more scoring titles, etc etc. But he touched on none of that.

At such a young age, Durant already gets it. The MVP trophy will have his name on it, but it’s not all about him. He began his speech with recognizable humility and maintained it throughout.

“First off I’d like to thank God for changing my life, letting me really realize what life is all about,” Durant said. “Basketball is just a platform in order for me to inspire people, and I realize that.” At the end: I’d just like to thank God again. You’re the first and the last. Alpha and Omega. I thank you for saving my life. In between, when talking about Tony Weaver, the Thunder’s vice president and assistant general manager, Durant said, “ God directed our paths to work together, and it’s been everything and more.”  Then on his Dad, Dad, “it’s been an up-and-down road for all of us, but you’ve always been there supporting from afar, texting me Bible verses every single day. Telling me you love me every single day. That builds me up, and I thank you so much.

Durant thanked every single teammate, coeaches, and many around, one by one,  him for how they’ve helped him get this far. He thanked his grandma for “picking me up from school when I was a kid, fixing me peanut butter & jelly sandwiches every day.”

And of course, he thanked his mom – for everything.

At the end of his acceptance speech, a teary-eyed Durant addressed his mom, Wanda Pratt, in a moving monologue that explained thoroughly the struggles of which Durant and his family endured.

“I don’t think you knew what you did,” Durant told his mom. “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 wasn’t supposed to be here.”

“You wake me up in the middle of the night in the summertimes, making me run up a hill, making me do pushups, screaming at me from the sidelines of my games at eight or nine years old,” Durant recalled as an emotional Pratt looked on, smiling and crying at the same time.

“We wasn’t supposed to be here. You made us believe, you kept us off the street, you put clothes on our backs, food on the table, when you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry, you sacrificed for us.  You’re the real MVP.”

Kevin Durant wasn’t supposed to be here – but here he is.  OKC’s Most Valuable Player and perhaps Most Valuable Person.

It’s hard to witness Durant’s rare combination of extreme talent and uncommon humility and not be impressed. The latest example came Tuesday when a teary-eyed Durant won his first NBA Most Valuable Player Award and — in a speech for the sports ages — deflected the attention from himself.






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