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Kevin Durant: Measuring an MVP's value one personal encounter at a time

‘KD & ME’ — Kevin Durant’s impact on Oklahoma is such that it seems almost everyone has their own story of a brush with Kevin. Ford Smith’s is both typical and one in a million.
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 14, 2014
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photo - Ford Smith, center poses for a photo with his brother Parker and parents Brian and Tiffany at their home in Covington, Okla. on Thursday, May 8, 2014. Ford was attacked by a neighbor's dog in December of 2010. He suffered from a punctured trachea and permanent vocal cord damage, and spent 9 days in ICU at OU children's hospital. One of his nurses who worked as a paramedic for Oklahoma City Thunder games was nice enough to arrange an after game visit with Kevin Durant after Ford was released from the hospital. Durant took the time to talk to, play catch, and sign a ball for both Ford and his brother Parker making memories and fans for life. Mother Tiffany described Durant as being  kind way beyond his years and truly a hero to my boys.   Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Ford Smith, center poses for a photo with his brother Parker and parents Brian and Tiffany at their home in Covington, Okla. on Thursday, May 8, 2014. Ford was attacked by a neighbor's dog in December of 2010. He suffered from a punctured trachea and permanent vocal cord damage, and spent 9 days in ICU at OU children's hospital. One of his nurses who worked as a paramedic for Oklahoma City Thunder games was nice enough to arrange an after game visit with Kevin Durant after Ford was released from the hospital. Durant took the time to talk to, play catch, and sign a ball for both Ford and his brother Parker making memories and fans for life. Mother Tiffany described Durant as being kind way beyond his years and truly a hero to my boys. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Ford Smith doesn’t have much to say about the time he met Kevin Durant.

“It was cool,” he said.

But the fact that the 7-year-old can say anything at all is a triumph.

A little over three years ago, Ford was the victim of a vicious dog attack. The animal went for his throat, crushing his larynx and puncturing his trachea. It nearly killed him and left him with voice problems that linger still.

After a long hospital stay and amid an even longer recovery, the little boy got to meet the Thunder superstar.

He’s hardly the only one to have a KD encounter.

In the glow of Durant’s MVP award, the world has come to know about the good guy in the No. 35 jersey. But Oklahomans have known about that side of KD for years. They have seen it in big and small ways, from his $1 million donation to tornado relief in Moore to his chance meetings with fans all around the state.

Seems like everyone has a KD-and-me story.

And Durant’s meeting three years ago with Brian and Tiffany Smith and their boys, Parker and Ford, is typical. It was done quietly, without fanfare, it was heartfelt and genuine, and it resonated the folks with whom he crossed paths.

“It was only five minutes,” Brian said, “but it was well worth it to my kids.”

A few months earlier, Ford was playing in the yard at the family’s house in Covington, a tiny town 20 minutes east of Enid. He and older brother Parker were riding inside a toy police car when the neighbor’s dog busted through the gate. It went after Ford.

“He basically went straight for his throat,” Tiffany said.

Parker ran to find their dad, Brian, who pulled the dog off of Ford. It then bit Brian and Parker and Tiffany, who’d run into the yard after hearing the commotion. But Ford had taken the worst of it.

The family rushed to the hospital in Enid, and almost immediately, Ford was airlifted to OU Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.

His larynx was crushed, caused by blunt and penetrating trauma. His trachea was punctured in three places. In an attempt to let those wounds heal, Ford was placed in a medically induced coma. He was paralyzed and sedated for five days.

One night, his lung collapsed, and he had to be bagged so that he could breathe.

Tiffany and Brian thought they might lose him.

A couple of years later, Tiffany and Ford were looking at some pictures of his time in the hospital. Ford suddenly said that he remembered a story about being there.

“I remember I was way up high and you and daddy were way down low,” he said. “I could hear you and see you, but you couldn’t see me.”

“What?” Tiffany asked, stunned.

“There was a little boy up there trying to help me. And I thought you were going to leave me.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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