At the age of 21, Wanda Durant was raising two boys on her own in Cheverly, Maryland, and trying to instill in them a sense of purpose and drive. Fast forward 30 years, and she now gets to watch her son Kevin Durant earn championships with the Golden State Warriors and MVP titles in the NBA.
Kevin Durant’s Mother: The Wanda Durant Story
Q: As a young single mother of two boys, who did you look to for parenting inspiration?
Durant: Initially the foundation of my parenting style started from my mom and my grandparents and the women in my family. One of the things they really instilled in me was to sacrifice for your family. To provide and protect your family at all costs. To do whatever it takes.
Q: How did you build on that foundation with your sons?
Durant: When I started my own home, one of the things I realized was that my mom never followed her dreams, and therefore she never taught me how to follow my dreams. I didn’t know what it was I wanted to be or do. So, I decided for my children that I was going to teach them and decide what I wanted for them based on their characteristics and personality, whatever they were proficient in.
My oldest son loved literature, Kevin loved science, and they both loved basketball. I made faith important—that was our number one focal point in our home. That is a strong part of our foundation and who we are as a family.
I began to teach them how to set goals academically. For example, if they wanted to be an honor roll student, what that would look like for them. And we developed a plan for them to be successful and give them something to strive for. I developed a plan for the men I wanted my sons to grow into. I set out to develop that plan because I regretted that I didn’t have that plan for myself.
Q: How did you manage to do this all by yourself?
Durant: My family was surrounded by a community of people. We had my extended family, and the mentors and employees of the rec center my sons visited all the time. Also, Boys & Girls Clubs of America had a significant impact on my sons’ lives. I wanted people who would help me carry out the plan and strategy that I had for my sons. It wasn’t just me. We had a lot of help. And it was not easy; there were a lot of challenges throughout the process.
Q: Was it challenging raising a son who was so talented and maybe got more attention from his peers?
Durant: There was always the possibility of being more prideful than one should be. That was always at the forefront with regards to him playing basketball. His coach and I kept him working at the skill of basketball versus playing basketball. We worked and worked so there wasn’t a lot of time for celebration. I feel that humility is one of the prizes of life.
Q: Were there challenges for Kevin as a six-foot-tall kid in middle school?
Durant: He was teased for being tall. One of the things I did was talk to his teacher in elementary school and I asked her to make the lines from the tallest to the shortest sometimes so that my son would know that he didn’t always have to be in the back. Sometimes children internalize things in a very peculiar way.
Q: What was it like raising your son Anthony amidst the attention Kevin was receiving?
Durant: While Kevin was getting attention in the basketball world, both he and Tony played basketball.
It was imperative that I recognize Tony and his successes along the way. The community didn’t always recognize him other than being Kevin’s brother. But I recognized his talents.
He was very successful. Tony went off to military school when he was 15 years old. He graduated third in military command and top 10 in his class. Today, he is an entrepreneur businessman and has done really well for himself.
I am really proud of both of them. They are very close and work together now. Neither is married or has children yet. I am not too happy about that because I am ready for two daughters and then grandchildren.