Kevin Durant won the NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award earlier this week. He is a model of excellence for all professional athletes to emulate, representing a rare mix of athletic brilliance combined with modesty, humility and humbleness.
During Durant's emotional acceptance speech, he thanked every single teammate individually, including players most fans are unaware of who sit on the bench every game. Durant then proceeded to thank his coaching staff. He even thanked the team staff and facilities folks, naming many individuals by name. Durant understands that we all have a stake in one another and that no person achieves success on his or her own.
Saving the best for last, Durant then thanked his family and ultimately his mom, with whom he has always shared an exceptionally close relationship. She attends many of his games and is often highlighted on TV and in photos of the games. With tears in his eyes, and in hers as well, Durant described his upbringing and all that his mother -- a single mom with two children by age 21 -- did to raise him. The exclamation point of his speech came when Durant told his mom, "You're the real MVP!" The entire audience presented Durant's mother with an emotionally-charged standing ovation.
I feel fortunate to be able to relate to Durant's affection for his mom, and I'm sad that there are many people in the world for whom that type of relationship is a foreign concept. Though I never had Kevin Durant-like sports talents, my mom was always there to pick me up from practices and to encourage me to strive for excellence. My mom continues to be there for me whenever I need her to this day.
In recent years, I've watched my mom courageously battle and overcome two bouts of cancer along with other health ailments. And I've learned from the way she maintains strong decades-long friendships with people and how she stands up and leads in different ways in the world.
As we reflect on Mother's Day this weekend, I follow Kevin Durant's lead by telling my mom "You're the real MVP!" Thanks for always being there!