Since Kevin Durant first arrived in Oklahoma City in 2008, NBA fans throughout Oklahoma became accustomed to seeing the woman who is arguably his No. 1 fan — his mother.
Wanda Pratt, affectionately known as “Mama Durant,” could be seen courtside cheering for her baby boy at most Oklahoma City Thunder games.
Fans became quite familiar with Pratt, who rooted for KD and the Thunder with enthusiasm. Some probably noted that her hair was always perfectly coiffed and she liked to dress fashionably in her trademark sky-high heels.
Her son, the All-Star forward, tugged on fans’ heartstrings each time he made a beeline for his mom to exchange a hug or kiss with her after the games.
Then about a year ago, Pratt seemed to disappear.
Where once she was at almost every regular-season game, the NBA mom became hard to find. One could almost hear the R&B soul group the Chi-Lites cooing their 1970s hit: “Have you seen her? Tell me, have you seen her?”
The question on fans’ lips was, “Where’s Mama?”
Pratt answered that question at an interfaith luncheon on Good Friday in Oklahoma City. She told The Oklahoman that she didn’t mind sharing her story with others — a positive story about a woman making the transition from mother of two young boys to mom of two grown men.
This was before the playoffs and before her talented son was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in a heartwarming, emotional ceremony in the metro area.
This was before the new NBA MVP, tears streaming down his face, described his mama as the “real MVP.”
Before all of that, Pratt shared her heart with an audience of about 40 people gathered for an Institute of the Southwest luncheon in Oklahoma City.
Pratt told the group that her own journey of self-discovery had kept her away from many of her son’s games over the past year.
It was a journey that was both freeing and gratifying, she said.
Thing is, she said it wasn’t her idea at first — it was her sons’.
Pratt said Durant and his older brother, Anthony Durant, told her more than once that she needed to travel, do her own thing.
In short, Pratt said her sons wanted her to enjoy her life as the mother of successful adults — and Pratt said that’s just what she did.
So that’s where she’s been, she got a life.
She said it was an amazing process, but it started out a little rocky.
Finding her way
Pratt said her sons were pretty adamant that she do as many parents of adult children do when their adult children have successfully become independent:
Get a good night’s sleep.
See the world.
Do whatever it is that brings happiness and fulfillment.
“They came to me and said ‘Mom, we just want you to enjoy our life,’” she said.
She said she looked back on this time and realized that her grown sons had an excellent point, but she couldn’t help feeling sad.
“For them, it was a really a good thing, but for me, it was hard because I was so used to being hands-on with them and it was just different when they became young adults,” she said.
Pratt said she called her mom and talked about the difficulty of it all.
“The goals that I have for my sons and the goals that they have for themselves are the same goals, but we have different plans in meeting those goals,” she said.
“As a parent it was my responsibility to allow them to carry out the plans to meet their goals and to be there to help whenever they need it. Sometimes as a parent, it may be hard for us to do that, but you know when we love our children, we do that.”
She said she tried “running away” by packing her bags and heading to Europe. She said even there, she was recognized as “Kevin Durant’s mom.”
“I couldn’t believe it. So I couldn’t even run away, but that wasn’t the answer,” Pratt said as her audience laughed.
Then something happened.
Pratt said she realized that she really didn’t have any idea what to do with herself at this point in her life. She said having raised her sons as a single mom — she had Anthony at age 18 and Kevin came three years later — she was incredibly close to both boys.
She said she had her own friends and she did things with them, but she said for the most part, she was Anthony’s mom and Kevin’s mom.
“I didn’t know anything about myself. My focus was on my children. All the lessons that I tried to teach and to instill in them, I had that, but I had it more directed to my children, than myself. So I had to learn the process to do that for myself,” she said.
Pratt said she realized that she didn’t know things like her favorite color — but she could tell anyone who asked anything they wanted to know about her boys.
Pratt said she took the time to ask God “what is my purpose?”
She said she looked back over her life and found that she had modeled herself after many of the “strong, wonderful, brilliant” women in her family. She said they, too, had made their role as mothers a priority and perhaps their own lives as individual women got put on the back burner.
Don’t get her wrong — Pratt said being mom to her sons was and is wonderful. Sure, there were struggles as they made their way in Seat Pleasant, Md., but they made it — together.
“It was hard but I enjoyed my time with my children,” she said.
However, Pratt said she now sees that her purpose is to share with others the lessons she has learned, to encourage women to expand their horizons beyond motherhood, to seek out fulfillment simply as the women God designed them to be.
That’s what she did, “so that’s where I’ve been,” she said, grinning.
“I can tell you today my favorite color is green,” she added, and luncheon guests noted that she wore a snazzy dress in an emerald shade of her favorite hue.
“Just being Wanda, I learned that my favorite cuisine is Italian, that I like to travel and I like to connect with people. I like to inspire people. I like to encourage and give hope to people.”
Pratt said she didn’t realize that people noted her absence from many of the regular season games until she returned to Oklahoma City and began showing up court side at Thunder games again.
“When I did come back in town, people were saying ‘We missed you, we missed you,’” she said.
She said she knew there was speculation about where she had been.
“I had heard stories about my mom being sick and that I was taking care of my mom, that there were problems between my son and me and all this kind of stuff and that was not the case,” Pratt said Thursday in an exclusive interview.
Pratt said she’s just having a ball finding out all about herself.
“I liken it to a budding flower — I’m still budding,” she said.
“I’m still coming into the fullness of who I am. Every day is a process for me but it’s a journey that I have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy.”
If you go
•What: “How to Raise a Champion On and Off the Court” featuring Wanda Pratt
•When: 11 a.m. Sunday
•Where: OKC Faith Church, 800 S Portland Ave.
•Information: Find more details online at www.okcfaith.com and www.MamaDurant.com.