When a mom opens a Mother's Day card from her child on the annual holiday, she usually gets a typical message like "Thanks for being the best mom ever!" scribbled on the card. This is most likely a true and heartfelt message from the child, but it might not be telling the whole story. Athletes, though they often forget, should also include following message: "and thank you for being my biggest supporter and fan."
As a former high school Varsity athlete, I'm very well aware of how important a mother's support is while working hard all season. When you're younger, it's usually your mother who drives you to practice and games. When you're older, it's your Mother who never says anything bad about your game and only tells you how well you played. Hearing your mom screaming and cheering for you from the stands may be a little embarrassing at times, but it's the best support you can have during a game.
That screaming and high-pitched cheering doesn't end in high school. For the extremely committed, hard-working and very talented few, an athlete's biggest fan/mom will follow him or her as far as that athlete goes. Whether it's college, the NFL, or the NBA, mothers seem to always make their mark on their child's career.
Take Wilma McNabb, for example. The mother of the greatest statistical quarterback in Philadelphia Eagles' franchise history, Donovan McNabb, may be a household name beyond her son's fame. Her true passion for supporting her boy was so evident that Campbell's Chunky Soup decided to use her love in its TV-commercial ad campaign. And, what many people outside of Philadelphia may not know, is that on top of the commercial, she was the driving force behind Donovan's mental stability. Donavan was hated in Philly.
Despite bringing the team to 5 NFC Championship games and 1 Super Bowl appearance, the Eagles faithful couldn't get over his almost arrogant attitude and open complaining about the fans' disapproval of him. Wilma was there for her son during his times of need. After losing Super Bowl XXXIX to the New England Patriots, McNabb was criticized more than ever for not coming up in the clutch. He turned to his mother in the offseason for support -- and support was what he received.
Shifting sports, Flo Allen-Hopson might very well be the most well known mother of an NBA athlete. Proudly dawning the jersey of her son, Ray Allen, to every Celtics' game (both home and away), Allen-Hopson never fails to root on her son. The mother and son's relationship isn't as well publicized as the McNabb's, but it was on full display when Allen became the NBA's All-Time leader in 3-point field goals made on February 10, 2011. After draining his 2,561st 3-pointer against the Los Angeles Lakers that night, the game stopped for a few moments. Allen celebrated with a yell and a fist-pump and then proceeded to shake the hand of the previous record-holder, TNT NBA Analyst Reggie Miller. Immediately after that acknowledgment, Allen headed over to his mother Flo. The two shared an incredibly emotional and passionate embrace. Anyone watching the game truly understood how much his mother meant to Allen at that moment. You could tell she's been screaming for him from the stands ever since he could count his age on only one hand.
Additionally, Flo has inspired many others unconnected to her son. In 2010, Flo participated in The Mothers of Professional Basketball Players annual conference where they were raising money for several charities. In 2012, Flo completed her third-consecutive Boston Marathon. But her amazing physical feat at the age of 56 isn't why she's inspiring -- it's why she ran. In 2008, Ray's son Walker was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes, something she wanted to help him overcome but knew she couldn't. That is until, one day, she found a way. Through running the Boston Marathon, along with her team of 12 others, Allen-Hopson's efforts to fight Juvenile Diabetes has grossed $62,000 for the Joslin Diabetes Center. Talk about a lover and a supporter.
As Mother's Day 2012 is upon us, I want to ask for one favor of all athletes (current or past). Look your mother in the eyes today, and sincerely thank her. Thank her for being the your loudest cheerleader, biggest fan and most consistent supporter. You wouldn't be where you are in your athletic career without her. Trust me.