Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder delivered an emotional and heartfelt speech when he accepted the NBA's Most Valuable Player award for the 2013-2014 season at a crowded reception event in Oklahoma on Tuesday evening.
After the 25-year-old Durant was introduced to deliver his acceptance speech, the forward delivered an emotional tribute to God, his teammates, and mother, recalling his difficult upbringing without a father and his mother's undying support for him and his basketball career.
"First off I'd like to thank God for changing my life [and] letting me really realize what life is all about. Basketball is just a platform in order for me to inspire people, and I realize that," Durant said.
The MVP then went on to describe his childhood, explaining how he grew up in a suburb of Washington, D.C., and moved homes constantly with his brother and mom, who had had her first child at age 18. "I felt like there was no getting out," Durant said, growing teary-eyed.
He then talked about the first time he played basketball and fell in love with the game, and the feeling he gets when he now plays in the NBA after such humble beginnings. "It's a surreal feeling. I had so much help. So many people believed in me when I didn't believe in myself … I fell so many times and got back up."
The NBA star dedicated the conclusion of his emotional speech to his mother, who cried and smiled during her son's time on the podium. "And last, my mom. I don't think you know what you did."
"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 weren'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," he said. "You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You're the real MVP."
At this point, Durant's mother broke down in tears and the entire audience erupted in applause, giving Wanda Pratt a standing ovation.
Durant won this year's MVP award with 119 of 125 first-place votes, beating out four-time MVP winner LeBron James of the Miami Heat, who finished second while the Clippers' Blake Griffin finished third.
Durant's mother also expressed her joy and pride for her son in an interview with Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday. "I'm just kind of emotional about this day because he just worked so hard," she said.
"He started working at this early, when he was 9 years old. To see it all come together for him, I'm just excited for him. It really goes back to what Kevin puts in. I'm sure there are so many guys in the league that work extremely hard every day. But I know how hard he works, I know his heart, I know what he gave early on in the early days, and how many sacrifices he made through the years to even prepare for this moment."
Durant has played for the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six years, previously playing for the Seattle Supersonics. As the Los Angeles Times reports, this past season Durant averaged career highs in points and assists, often carrying the Thunder in games when teammate Russell Westbrook sat out.