(June 16, 2012) Prince George’s County, Md. native Kevin Durant will have the whole world watching as he attempts to outplay fellow superstar LeBron James and claim his first NBA title. But there’s one person who’s been watching Durant his whole life: his mother, Wanda Pratt.

The Washington, D.C. native worked excessive overtime hours during Durant’s childhood to ensure her family was provided for, but she still always made enough time to push and motivate her children to become just as disciplined and hard working as she was.

“When my sons were born, I felt it was my duty to make sure they became strong men, and I remember thinking, I need some activities for my boys in order for them to be well-rounded and to be away from some of the ills that were associated with the areas that we came from,” said Pratt, who told reporters that Kevin was seven-year-old when he first began to play youth organized basketball for the Capital Heights, Md. Boys and Girls Club.

Pratt acknowledges that as a single parent, she had to sacrifice much of her private adult life so that she could be the active supporter she wanted to be in her children’s life, especially when it came to supporting them in their sports activities.

She worked the nightshift for the U.S. Post Office, hauling 70-pounds bags of mail from 11 p.m. to 7.a.m, just to pay the bills; she even often dipped into her retirement fund so that she could pay for her sons to travel with youth basketball clubs and to go to private schools.

“I would always tell my boys that if you’re not going to give everything you’ve got, then it’s not worth doing it, so always give everything that you have,” Pratt said. “Kevin works so hard, and he gives so much of himself, which has led to his success.”

Pratt, who claims she’s easily Kevin’s biggest critic, told ESPN that she sees her son “turning the corner” on what should be a very special career.

“I really think Kevin is turning the corner in his career, so when I watch him, I watch him differently than others,” said Pratt, who never misses any of Durant’s games. “I’m watching to see him meet those expectations.”

Pratt said she has given Kevin years of personal advice on his game and on life, but lately, she’s found herself on the receiving end of valuable advice given from her son.

“When I saw when I first arrived in Oklahoma City for , I was a little nervous, and really anxious, and he could tell,” Pratt said. “He was like, ‘ma, it’s going to be alright. Everything is fine.’ And I’m like, ‘everything is fine? We’ve never been here before; this is the grand stage you wanted.’ He said, ‘I’m fine, ma. It’s just a game.’ But I was so nervous, I took the wrong exit coming to the arena, and I come here all the time. So you can tell he’s really locked in.”

Pratt admitted that although she wants Kevin to win a title more than anyone, there’s one player on the Miami Heat roster that she finds hard to root against.

“I really like LeBron because he’s such a sweetheart,” she said, “He embraces me every time I see him, and he’s always really kind to my son so I love him for that.”

Championship won or not, Pratt told reporters she’s already captured her greatest honor in life.

“The greatest honor I have in life is how my sons look at me,” Pratt said. “How much I see that they appreciate me, and how much they care about me. I’m just proud to be there mom.”

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor