They sat in the front row, shoulder-to-shoulder, staring back at a watery-eyed Kevin Durant with misty eyes of their own.
This was as much their moment as it was his.
“This is our trophy, too,” Durant told them during his emotional speech for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award.
Durant was speaking to his family and friends, the tightly-knit inner circle to which he dedicated the final four minutes of his powerful speech.
Durant singled out those who mean the most to him. They are the MVP’s most valuable people.
His mother, Wanda Pratt.
“You’re the real MVP,” Durant told her.
His older brother, Tony Durant.
“You’ve taught me to feel confident in myself, believe in myself; that I could do it when I didn’t think I could do it,” Durant said.
His father, Wayne Pratt.
“You’ve always been there supporting from afar, texting me bible verses every single day, telling me you love me every single day,” Durant said. “And that builds me up. And I thank you so much. I love you.”
His younger brother, Rayvonne Lee.
“You always followed after my footsteps,” Durant told him. “I always want to set a good example for you, man. Thank you for all the support. I love you.”
His grandmother, Barbara Davis, who couldn’t be in attendance.
“I know she’s watching,” Durant said. “She’s going to text me as soon as I get off the stage. Thank you so much for picking me up from school when I was a kid. Fixing me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day. Texting me after every game telling me I need to stop getting techs. And loving me unconditionally.”
Durant then turned his attention to close friends —we’ll call it his “framily” in a nod to the Sprint cellphone commericals featuring Durant that have been running during the playoffs.
Charlie Bell, a confidant he’s known since the age of 8, who now serves as a manager of sorts.
“Charlie is a guy that has been there with me from the beginning,” Durant told The Oklahoman. “Since I got into the league he’s helped me out every single day and made sure everything was straight for me and just let me focus on basketball. That’s something I appreciate.”
Cliff Dixon, a young man Wanda Pratt took in when he and Durant were about 16.
Randy Williams, a friend Durant met during his freshman year at Texas.
They’re among the few that comprise Durant’s clique. They’re the people you see cheering from courtside inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. They’re the people who provided much-needed nurturing as Durant navigated his NBA career and set out on this MVP course.
“They did their part in just making this thing roll,” Durant told The Oklahoman. “Because it’s tough living in this lifestyle, playing in the NBA, traveling so much, having a lot of money. It’s tough to really grasp at a young age. And they helped me out with it since Day One.”
Others have impacted Durant. He didn’t forget about them even if they haven’t been as visible to the general public.
“They all have a story,” Durant told The Oklahoman. “A few of them went to jail and they needed somebody to help them out and lean on and support them. And I wanted to be that guy. And I knew that they would do the same for me.”
Durant rarely speaks about his private life, and he’s been even more guarded about his family. But in those final four minutes of his 26-minute speech, Durant opened up and provided a rare peek into his support system.
“I just wanted to let them know how much I love them and how much they had a hand on me winning the MVP,” Durant told The Oklahoman. “Their support, their positivity and just keeping it real with me every day; just loving on me no matter what, just letting me know when I make mistakes and how I can be better from them. They do a tremendous job. They should be celebrated. So I just try to do my best to let them know.”
Durant couldn’t have delivered a better tribute.
It was humble and heartfelt and honest, and it magnificiently honored the people who mean the most to Durant.
“All my support from all my friends, all my family over the years, I appreciate it,” Durant said.
Durant labeled his MVP news conference surreal. As he accepted the trophy, he thought back to all the tough times his family overcame to get to this point. He thought about how much he’s matured and all those who helped him along the way.
“To be up there was just like a total 180 for me,” Durant said.
The one constant was his supporting cast.
The MVP’s most valuable people.
“They stood by me but they kept it real,” Durant said. “We’re just like any other family that goes through tough times. Just because I’m blessed enough to be financially stable and live out my dreams, we still go through problems. That’s what families do. But we stick together through it all.”