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When athletes think of their mothers, they remember car pools and endless trips to practice. They remember the women who instilled in them toughness, fearlessness and a sense of fair play. Most of all, they remember how much she means to them.
"My mom was always there. Both my parents made every game. She was there for everything. When we played, our whole family would go out. Everybody's competitive. My mom, she's a competitor. She would try to D me up or I'll try to D up her. I don't play her in tennis anymore since one time we were out there and I hit a ball on her side and she called it out and I clearly know it was in. She hit a ball on my side and I called it out, and she said, 'No, no, no.' Tennis is a game we can't play unless there's a neutral referee."
Jerome Williams is the only player in the major leagues to wear a pink glove. He does so in honor of his mother, Deborah, who died after a relapse of cancer (originally breast cancer) in 2001 at the age of 43.
"[In 2001], she was in hospice so I knew something was going to happen. I didn't want to go to spring training. I was 19 years old. I was a baby. I was a little boy. She told me I had to go, so I took her advice. I knew something was going to happen, but I just didn't know when. With about three weeks left in spring training, I got a phone call like 3 o'clock in the morning from my brother telling me you've to come home."
"My favorite stories about my mom are after games where I kick a game winner, and she's like, 'I didn't even see it, but I heard about it.' She can't watch any game-winners because she gets sick to her stomach. So she'll go into the bathroom at the stadium, or she'll just walk out to the concourse, not watch and just wait for people to yell or boo. But my mom hasn't watched one game-winner that I've kicked in the National Football League. Whatever she needs to do to get through it. I know that I'm confident enough to make it, but [what she does] makes for good conversation at dinner when the game's over."
"She can't watch me play. She gets too nervous. Even when I was younger, she would watch, but would be nervous. In high school, we were in the state championship (basketball) and she was crying before the game she was so nervous. Even now, if I come into pitch, she can't watch it. She'll DVR it and if I did well, she'll watch it. If I did bad, she won't watch."
|Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp says his mother, Judy Henderson, is his hero and the person he admires the most.|
"My mom means everything to me. That is the lady that raised me. She worked two jobs, took me to practices and did all those things a mother is supposed to do. She is definitely my hero and definitely the one I look up to and I admire the most. If it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't be in this position."
Matt Barnes' mother died of lung cancer in November 2007. He established his foundation, Athletes vs. Cancer, in her honor.
"She was the one always taking me to my sporting events and there supporting me and kind of there when we made that significant run in Golden State which was really my first streak getting a chance to play, so it was good."
"She beat me in a race when I was 13 years old. I asked her if she wanted to race to the car. It was about 50 or 60 feet away. She said no. And then when I had looked up, she had taken off. I couldn't catch up. She beat me."
"It was in a game where all my family was there. I think maybe like the Atlanta game [in 2006] and all my family is from Auburn, Ala., so they were all there. I hurt like my elbow or my knee and at halftime I got a text from her saying, 'Suck it up, everybody's here to watch you. You need to get out and play.' I'm like, OK. But that's what it's about. You've got to get out there and play, play like a gladiator."
"She was working two jobs and always made sure I had the right equipment, and that I was always on time for practice. She was always there for me. If she couldn't take me to practice, she always made sure someone could. I remember her driving me and my brother around in this yellow Toyota. She took care of me."
"My mom would always make me my same breakfast every morning for a Saturday day tournament, have the Don Cherry Rock'Em Sock'Em video ready in the VCR and she, like every good mother does, they treat their son like a king. She was always cheering, so excited. She would come in with her video camera and tape the guys on my team. This was 8, 9, 10 years old. She added excitement to the game."
"When we would go to any of my sister's games or anything, she was always yelling at the umpires or referees and I'd be like, 'I'm gonna have to move, you're embarrassing me.' She'd be like, 'Go sit somewhere else because I'm gonna keep yelling at them.' She loved to get after the refs. She was blending in with the rest of them all. Everybody was screaming."
"She always wants her children to do well and score a lot and be a top scorer, top rebounder, top everything. Obviously, she's a proud mom and she gets into it."
"She made a lot of sacrifices when she could have been doing things for herself and instead was carrying me and my brothers to who knows how many different sporting events and practices and games and things like that. No question, just the unselfishness that she had when it came to the kids."
"Well, she pretty much at first didn't want me to play [football] in high school. But my coach kind of talked her into letting me play. She really didn't care about sports. She just cared about my grades in school. So in order for me to be able to play football, I had to make the honor roll."
"Growing up when I was younger around 15 years old, I was a knucklehead who didn't want to study, didn't want to go to school. She made the tough decision to send me to a military academy [Fork Union Military Academy] at that age. I didn't realize at the time that it was a launching pad for me to get to this point where I am now. I thought my career was done, I thought it was over, I thought that I would never play football again when I went to the military academy but it opened up the door for me to really achieve that dream. I owe a great deal to her and I commend her for having the foresight to say, 'My son's at an age where he needs a father and he needs discipline and I just can't provide that for him so we'll have to send him away.'"
"She just supported the sports that I wanted to play and made sure I was signed up. She helped get me to and from and made sure I got to every game and practice. She didn't play a lot of sports as a youngster, but she saw the passion I had for sports, not just hockey but all sports, and made sure myself and my siblings were playing the sports we wanted to play."
"She didn't miss any games when I was growing up. She still doesn't, even though, sometimes when we play here, she's back home [in Slovenia]. She wakes up at 3-4 a.m. and watches the game. She has always driven me to practices, games and helped me out with the schoolwork and everything. I don't think it's any different from any other mom. ... Every time I'd have to come from school, I was always in a hurry to get on the ice and we always broke a few speeding limits on the highways. That's not the best story to be proud of, but it just shows how dedicated she was to me going through practices."
"[My mother] always stressed education over athletics. My mom as well as my dad did a good job of setting that foundation in our household. Respecting others was very key and very vital to the point where she did not let me play in some youth league football games whenever I got those priorities out of order. She always was the one in my corner that pushed me -- I'm a pretty self-motivated guy but she always was there for me to make sure I kept my motivations whatever they were. She always asked, 'What are you striving to do? What's your inspiration? What are your goals?' She fought breast cancer for a while. But even through her sickness, she continued to come to the games. She continued to support me."
"Her and my dad made a ton of sacrifices for me to be able to play sports. We didn't grow up with a ton of money, and they sacrificed stuff for themselves to be able to put me on a club team or a travel team. Stuff like that I'll never forget. Obviously that's what I'll do with my kids."
"My mom is probably the toughest person I know and she really instilled that toughness, fearlessness, really great desire to achieve and excel and not let anything hold me back. Everything that I have done, she has said, 'Courtney, do not settle for second best. Always strive to do more, do better, and do not be afraid to fail because if you do not try you are not going to know how well you can do.' She is still a very powerful force in my life and gives me a lot of great words and inspiration even to this day."