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Oklahoma football: Sooners' David King a product of a promise kept between two mothers

On Friday, David King will lead the Sooner defense one last time when OU faces Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. King got to this point thanks to the love of his two mothers: the one who kept him off the streets and the other who kept a promise.
BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM, Staff Writer, Published: January 2, 2013

photo - Before this year’s Bedlam game David King stood at midfield and was honored as the winner of the 2012 Don Key Award, given to a senior football player who excelled on and off the field. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman Archives
Before this year’s Bedlam game David King stood at midfield and was honored as the winner of the 2012 Don Key Award, given to a senior football player who excelled on and off the field. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman Archives

“When David lost his Uncle Phillip, all that remained of his family were women,” Stacy said. “There were grown women, aunts, great aunts, just sobbing and they all hung on him.”

That day and in the ones that followed, the paperwork came from the doctors. Stacy and John helped him through the papers and bills.

The house on Kashmere Street stood as a remembrance of all David lost. It was a symbol of loneliness and pain. David said he didn't want it.

He never moved back into that house. He didn't have to.

The McVaneys kept their promise.

* * *

In the beginning, the OU Compliance Department investigated the McVaneys. A strong-as-an-ox defensive lineman like David could be motive for a family to take him in and try to benefit if he were to turn pro.

The compliance department learned that wouldn't be the case with the McVaneys. John owns a small share of the Houston Astros, and the family is financially secure. Their daughter Katie is a successful lawyer in Texas, their son Tom is graduating college this spring and their son Jeff was drafted by the Detroit Tigers after playing college baseball at Texas State.

Stacy and John's motives were clear. It was about keeping a promise and to give a young man a family when he had no dad to turn to and no mother left.

“First of all, we don't need the money and second of all we love him as a kid,” John said. “That was not the reason. He was friends with our kid and he lost his home. His family died. Where the hell else was he going to go? That's the whole story. Pretty simple.

“He's not different to me than any of my boys, honestly. We feel that way about him. I would give that boy the shirt off my back.”

David started referring to them as Momma Two and Big John. He became part of the family Christmas card.

Stacy learned to keep bags of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the cabinets and to keep the refrigerator stocked.

David even has his own spot on the family's couch in the basement. The armrest was deemed ‘The Trough' since the family would set out two or three egg sandwiches in the morning and two or three turkey sandwiches in the afternoon for David.

“Whenever we're all downstairs, I usually find a movie and we'll watch it and have a good time,” David said.

Stacy said she avoids watching new releases so she can watch them when David is home. Then she cries through a majority of them. If they're watching a movie David has seen before, he warns her on parts when he thinks she may become upset.

One time, Stacy and David sat down to watch a movie neither had seen: The Blind Side. The movie is a story of Michael Oher, a young man from a rough neighborhood with a drug-addicted mother. He is taken in by a well-to-do family. They help him learn the game of football and love him like he's their son. He goes on to play in college and the NFL.

Stacy said they ended up sitting next to each other crying.

“It was a pretty good movie,” David said. “Sad.”

“It hit a little too close to home,” Stacy said. “Not in that mom part. David came from a great background and his mom was awesome, so not that part. But the part of loving somebody else's child.”

She knows that all too well. She saw herself in that movie — how a mother could love someone else's child as her own.

“When he has children, they will be my grandchildren,” Stacy said.

But before any baby showers or weddings, they'll celebrate other milestones. They celebrated David's graduation from OU on Dec. 14.

Now there's the possibility of a draft party celebrating if David gets to play professional football.

* * *

On Nov. 23, before the Bedlam game, as David stood at midfield with a plaque in his arms, Stacy tried to hold it together. So did David.

He was being honored as the winner of the 2012 Don Key Award, given to a senior football player who excelled on and off the field. Later, OU coach Bob Stoops would say King, a senior captain, deserved the award for all that he dealt with off the field.

As David cradled the award, Stacy could see the pain on his face. He was thinking about his mom.

“I was praying to her that I hoped she was proud of me and what I had done,” David said.

Stacy stood on the field in a red OU windbreaker.

“Nobody is ever going to replace my mom because she was there with me for 20 years,” David said recently, “but Stacy's fulfilling the motherly role for me. Treating me as one of her own children and telling me nice things and telling me she loves me once in a while to make me feel loved.”

Stacy was there as a sign of the promise made by two mothers — a promise of ultimate love.

“Hold it together,” she told herself as tears rolled down David's cheeks. “You can release in the stands.”

Stacy hugged David one last time before kickoff. When she got back to the stands, she knew she needed to talk with Gladys.

“I'm sad you're not here because you would be so proud to see him. I only pray you are seeing it all. It's not fair you did all the work of raising him into who he is today, and I get to be in all the glory with him celebrating,” Stacy said. “It's just not fair.”

As she finished, she lowered her head and tears began to fill her eyes.

And just like many mothers celebrating their sons’ senior days, she began to cry and cheer as David walked out to the coin toss with the other three captains.

David had exceeded expectations. Standing there in that circle at midfield, David prayed that his mother was proud.

* * *

Almost two years after Gladys' passing, Stacy dabbed another mangled and damp tissue at her eyes during winter commencement.

David's extended family of aunts, great aunts, cousins, his sister and his niece were in attendance, and the McVaneys were trying not to interfere. In times like this, they understand they are his second family.

Stacy replaced her glasses only to take them off to wipe her eyes again. As she replaced the glasses once again, her iPhone screen lit up.

Stacy quickly got up and rushed through the throngs of families, leaving her husband to fend his own way through the crowd. He laughed as he watched her.

She walked halfway around the arena. From two sections away, she spotted David in a black graduation gown and a white laurel with the words “OU Student Athlete” stitched on it.

Stacy started crying and waving. David grinned. Her pace quickened until she fell into his embrace.

“He's just a big friendly giant,” she once said describing him.

Stacy let go of David and raised herself on her tiptoes and kissed him on the head.

It was in this moment she showed the mother she had become to a young man who wasn't even her child. She held his hand as David began to thank them for coming.

David smiled at her and looked at John.

“Hey, I grabbed a double box and this is all I have left,” John said, revealing a small stack of tissues.

“If I knew having children would be this emotional, I probably would have never had any,” Stacy said.

As the Pomp and Circumstance March filled the arena, Stacy knew Gladys saw David as he turned his tassel, received a diploma and shouted 'Boomer Sooner.'

Sitting high inside Lloyd Noble Center, John looked at Stacy and put his hand up.

They gave each other a high five.

“One down,” John said.

“One down,” Stacy said.

Then Stacy rested her head on John's shoulder as they watched from above over the young man who became family all because of a promise.