The Oklahoma City Thunder's hopes often rest on forward Kevin Durant, but the woman who raised him is spreading her own message of hope to people throughout the state.
“I want to tell people that we can continue to have hope; we can dream, no matter the circumstances we have in our lives,” Wanda Pratt shared in a Thursday interview with The Oklahoman.
Circumstances she overcame included childhood molestation, which she disclosed at the “Shine the Light” anti-pornography event on Tuesday at Wheeler Park, on the outskirts of downtown Oklahoma City at 1120 S Western.
While the NBA forward was holding court at a recent preseason Oklahoma City Thunder game, his mother was making news of her own just a few miles away.
Pratt, 46, known to many Thunder fans as “Mama Durant,” placed her prepared speech aside and decided to speak candidly to the crowd of about 150 people, telling them that she had been molested as a child. She said while the experience did not cause her to be promiscuous, it eroded her sense of self worth.
Some attendees after the event told Pratt they were grateful that she had shared her story.
“I think we all have a story to share, and it's really important to the individual when they share it,” Pratt said.
The NBA mom showed an “honesty” and “vulnerability” that made an impact on the crowd, one of the attendees, Eric Smith, said recently.
“I think it's more powerful when someone decides to speak from the heart instead of from scripted notes or guidelines that have been previously scripted,” Smith, vice president of campus ministry at Southern Nazarene University.
“I think a lot of people were touched by her words and inspired by her honesty.”
A story in Wednesday's Oklahoman about Pratt's comments received thousands of hits on the newspaper's online component NewsOK.com. And Durant sent out a tweet on Wednesday encouraging people to follow his mom on Twitter.
“Please everyone do me a favor and follow my ma. She's touching a lot of lives around the country with her story! Love u ma,” he said.
Pratt said she is new to social media, but she is aware that several people have reached out to her online to say they read the story.
Thursday, Pratt said she was touched by all of the interest in what she has to say.
“It really warms my heart,” she said.
She said she had shared her life experiences with her sons, but she has no plans to publicly disclose details about the abuse she suffered.
“I don't have a problem sharing my life experiences, but the details of my life are private,” she said.
Stacy McNeiland, CEO of the Oklahoma County Child Abuse Response and Evaluation (C.A.R.E.) Center, said that when survivors of childhood abuse talk about their experience, it can be freeing.