Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Updated: June 10, 3:13 PM ET
Mother knows best
By Justin Verrier
Before he had even reached the age of 10, Kevin Durant had settled on his future profession.
He wanted to be an NBA player. It was that simple.
So he sat down his mother, Wanda Pratt, to make his plans known.
Pratt, a single parent of two for most of Durant's childhood, did what any mother would, promising to help him any way she could. But even Durant wasn't prepared for how far Pratt was willing go.
She enlisted a family friend, Taras "Stink" Brown, to help with the physical part; Brown would run a young Durant ragged with endless amounts of sprints and suicides up and down hills in his hometown of Seat Pleasant, Md.
Pratt, meanwhile, would take care of the drive -- both by carting Durant and his older brother, Tony, to practices upon practices and by making sure he stayed focused.
"When I was younger I would have good games," Durant said. "I would come home to my friends and brag and boast, but she always told me to be humble because all the stuff could be taken away from me."
Durant never forgot. Not on his way to becoming one of the top high school prospects in the country, or as an elite pro prospect after one decorated season at Texas.
In fact, it's part of what Durant, fresh off winning his first NBA scoring title, says has helped him rise to superstardom and the Thunder to become playoff contenders in his third season.
"After practice I just try to get in as much work as I can," Durant said. "That's why I think I've gotten so much better throughout the season: I always put in work after practice. My mom always told me to be like that."
And even though he moved out of his mom's house after his rookie season in Seattle -- Pratt's suggestion, of course -- he's still all ears when she has more help to give.
"I gotta listen to my mom," Durant said. "I can't be disobedient to her."
Justin Verrier is an NBA editor at ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.