On Tuesday, Kevin Durant announced his involvement with President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentors Initiative in a letter posted to the White House website. In it, he outlines the initiative’s goal to provide mentors to at least 250,000 at-risk youth within the next two years.
Here, in a related PSA video, Durant identifies the problems facing children from impoverished backgrounds and explains how the mentorship program can change lives:
It is widely known that Durant is no stranger to the perils of poverty, an absentee father and growing up in high-crime neighborhoods. He has long credited his mother, Wanda, for saving him from the streets by putting him in after-school activities. And he credits his childhood coach, Charles “Chucky” Craig, for envisioning the superstar, MVP, All-Star basketball life he leads today.
As a young boy, however, Durant didn’t believe Craig – chalking his talk up to a pipedream that, yes, was keeping him off the streets but surely would not lead him to NBA superstardom.
Boy, was he wrong!
Durant would go on to become the elite basketball player Craig knew he was capable of becoming. But Durant would also mature into the kind of man who would make his mother proud and set an example for others.
Unfortunately, Craig never got the chance to see this for himself. During Durant’s junior year at Oak Hill Academy, Craig was killed at the age of 35 – shot in the back while trying to break up a street fight, dying in the act of doing something good.
The #35 on every one of Durant’s jerseys since Craig’s death has served as a tribute to the mentor who guided him to where he is today.
With such strong direct evidence for the power of mentorship, it is no surprise that Durant would lend support to My Brother’s Keeper. But Durant is no stranger to community involvement and charitable giving. Some of Durant’s off-the-court accomplishments and contributions include:
- Founder of the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, whose mission it is “to enrich the lives of at-risk youth from low-income backgrounds through educational, athletic and social programs”
- Co-partner with Nike in the “Build It and They Will Ball” initiative, to renovate or build basketball courts in low-income communities
- Major donor to Positive Tomorrows, Oklahoma’s only elementary school established specifically to meet the needs of homeless children
- Major donor to three community organizations in his Seat Pleasant hometown in Prince George’s County, Maryland
- A $1-million donor to the American Red Cross to support tornado recovery efforts in Oklahoma
- Finalist for the 2015-16 NBA Cares Community Assist Award
- All-around good Samaritan who helped first responders reach an accident scene once
New teammates Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — along with every fan in Dub Nation — certainly have reason to be grateful that such a unique player with wide-ranging skillsets now plays in a Warriors’ uniform. But the Bay Area at-large should feel lucky to now have amidst its citizenry the thoughtful, kind and giving gentleman that is Kevin Durant.