When Judy's boy was younger, she'd send him to the bathroom to brush his teeth and comb his hair. Then Judy would follow up and make sure he'd done what he was supposed to.
“I used to think she was smothering him,” said Judy's sister. But now she sees why Judy did it.
Judy was making sure her boy did things right. She's motherly. That's the word that describes Judy. Motherly then, motherly now.
“She looks out for his best interests,” said the sister.
Judy was a single mother and her boy was an only child until he was 16, when a little brother was born three months premature and died at the age of one.
So Judy and her son became great friends.
“Oh wow, they are like two peas in a pod,” said Judy's sister. “They're very close. She tries not to smother him, but she's his mother. She doesn't treat him like he's a child. But you can tell she's there for his protection. She doesn't want anybody to say anything about him. Doesn't want anybody to hurt him. They're very close.”
Every time Judy's sister sees his face, she laughs to herself. “I can hear his voice, saying, ‘Momma!'”
Judy grew up in Midwest City. Her parents were hard workers; each always had two jobs, it seemed like, and Judy inherited that ethos.
Before her boy came along, Judy would go to nursing school during the day, work full-time at night as a nurse's aide and sleep and study when she could.
Judy was an athlete herself, a basketball player at Midwest City in the 1970s, and her boy's athletic prowess became evident early.
When he made it big, he bought a house for Judy before he bought one for himself. “Seeing the look of joy on her face when she picked it out and decorated what I gave her as a small token of my appreciation … there was no better feeling,” her son told Ebony magazine. “That, and telling her she didn't have to work anymore.”
Now Judy's work consists of keeping an eye on her son and making sure that no matter how brightly he shines on the athletic stage, he's still an Oklahoma boy at heart.
She knows he's grown and is going to make his own decisions, but that doesn't stop her from watching out for boy, whether it be from fans in the stands or celebrity romances.
Her boy doesn't mind. He took Judy as his date to the ESPY Awards last year. They're even highlighted in this month's Ebony.
Sometimes smothering pays off.
Her son says he has “crazy respect for single women who work and hold down the home while successfully raising their kids. I grew up with a woman who worked two jobs, went to school to become a registered nurse and kept up with my little bad self.”
So on this fine Sunday morning, a tip of the hat to the mom who's both a protector and a pal to her son, Matt Kemp. Happy Mother's Day to Judy Henderson.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.