Last Thursday the Golden State Warriors won their fourth NBA Championship in the last eight years. Led by MVP shooting guard Steph Curry, the Warriors defeated the legendary Boston Celtics. Yet according to a stirring new autobiography from Curry’s mother Sonya, the Warriors’ remarkable championships might never have happened.
Very few professional athletes receive as much public interest in their family life as Stephen Curry. As the clean-living, God-fearing leader of the Golden State Warriors, Curry is as well-known for having his precocious child on his lap during post-game press conferences as he is for his prowess on the court. His wife, Ayesha, runs a successful lifestyle magazine and his younger brother Seth also plays in the NBA. His mother, Sonya, has earned a bit of fame as well for her exuberant cheering and dancing in the stands over every Curry win.
Sonya’s joy at her sons’ success is understandable to any parent and in her recently published memoir, Fierce Love, Sonya discusses the roots of that joy as well as the various struggles and doubts she experienced raising the Curry boys and their sister, Sydel. Fierce Love is an in-depth look into the challenges Sonya faced raising three kids and running a Montessori school while her husband Dell, also a prolific shooter, was often away from home over the course of a 16-year NBA career.
Writing in an intimate tone, Sonya offers an honest account of motherhood and her accidental way of getting there. Growing up poor, Curry was always determined to be a success, focusing intently on her education and her athletic skills as a competitive volleyball player. What she viewed as her plan for her life went in a different direction when she faced an unplanned pregnancy. Unsure if a future with the child’s father was possible, and with her education unfinished, Sonya scheduled an abortion at a Planned Parenthood facility in Virginia. She was sitting in the clinic’s parking lot when she had a change of heart and decided to take a leap of faith.
Many sports fans are familiar with the story of that child who came within five minutes of extinction. They watched him drain six 3-pointers Thursday night while being named the NBA Finals’ Most Valuable Player. Stephen, who was almost aborted, instead became the highest 3-point scorer in NBA history.
Forced to leave college without a degree to raise her child, Sonya wrestled with doubt and worry over whether she was good enough and ready enough to be a mother. She writes with candor about taking her children to church simply because it felt like the right thing to do, and stuffing Scripture verses in between their mattresses as a way to protect them. She writes about her faith growing from something to be checked off a to-do list into what she now sees as a deep and personal relationship with God.
What is most refreshing about this book is how open Curry is about her feelings. She writes with unflinching honesty and doesn’t sugarcoat her experiences. In one memorable anecdote, she recounts how she refused to allow her son Seth to play in a major basketball tournament after he missed his curfew. She recounts how she wrestled with the punishment, fearing that she would “ruin his life” but also trusting that she had to set down rules in her household.
The Curry family has long been public about being devoted Christians and many will appreciate Sonya’s depiction of what a devoted Christian is. She writes openly about her questioning God, constantly asking Him if she is doing the right thing for herself and her family. It’s an honest walk from a woman who has been through a lot.
Fierce Love will appeal to more than just sports fans. It is a serious yet humorous memoir and many people will find parts of Sonya’s story that they identify with. Despite the fame and financial success the family has achieved, Sonya has remained open about her faith and core values. In this day and age, that’s encouraging. All in all, it’s a story of a mother who authentically wrestled with challenges, struggled well, raised champions, and became a champion herself.
Maria Donovan is a writer and sports fan based in New York.