You cannot let a fear of failure, or a fear of comparison, or a fear of judgement stop you from doing what’s going to make you great. You cannot succeed without this risk of failure, you cannot have a voice without the risk of criticism and you cannot love without the risk of loss. You must go out and take these risks. Do what’s uncomfortable, and scary, and hard, but pays off in the long run. Be willing to fail. Let yourself fail. Fail in the way and the place where you would want to fail. Fail, pick yourself up and fail again. Because without this struggle, what is your success anyway?
NBA Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant
Wow, thank you guys so much. I am usually good at talking but I am a little nervous today. First off, I’d like to thank God for changing my life. It let me really realize what life is about. Basketball is just a platform in order for me to inspire people and I realize that.
I come from a small county outside of Washington, DC called PG County. Me, my mom, my brother. We moved so many different places growing up. And it felt like a box. It felt like there was no getting out. My dream was to become a rec league coach. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay home and help the kids out and be a coach. I love basketball so much. I love playing it. I just never thought that I would make it to college, NBA or stand up here today in front of you guys and be NBA MVP. It is just a surreal feeling. And I had so much help. So many people believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. So many people doubted me and motivated me every single day to be who I am. I failed so many times and I got back up. I have been through the toughest times with my family and yet, I am still standing.
In the game of basketball I play. I play first off cause I love it. I love to have fun. I love to run up and down the court. I just told Grant Hill back there. I just got done playing against somebody as a second grader. I had a Piston’s Grant Hill jersey. That was the first time I walked into the gym. And that’s when I fell in love with the game. My mom, I think she just wanted to get me and my brother out of the house for a couple of hours. But when I walked into the gym, I fell in love with the game. I didn’t fall in love with it just because it was me playing. I fell in love with it because I got guys like this. Like these guys every single day that push me to be the best player I could be.
I want to single them out. Caron, even though you just got here a few months ago. We’ve grown so close over these last few weeks. And I could remember when you first got here, you wrote a piece of paper in my locker. I don’t know why I am crying so much man. You wrote a piece of paper in my locker that said “KD, MVP.” And that is after we had lost two or three straight. I don’t really say much in those moments but I remember that. I go home and I think about that stuff. When you got people behind you, you can do whatever. I thank you. I appreciate you.
I know you guys think I forgot Rus. But I could speak all night about Russell. An emotional guy who would run through a wall for me. And I don’t take it for granted. There are days where I just want to tackle you and tell you to snap out of it sometimes. But I know there are days you want to do the same thing with me. I love you, man. I love you. A lot of people put unfair criticism on you as a player. And I am the first to have your back man. Do it all. Just stay the person you are. Everybody loves you here. I love you.
And last, my mom. I don’t think you know what you did. You had my brother when you were 18-years-old. Three years later, I came out. The odds were stacked against us. Single parent with two boys by the time you were 21-years-old. Everybody told us we weren’t supposed to be here. We moved from apartment to apartment by ourselves. One of the best memories I have is when we moved into our first apartment. No bed. No furniture. And we just all sat in the living room and just hugged each other. Cause that’s when we thought we made it. And when something good happens to you, I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to look back to what brought me here. And you wake me up in the middle of the night in the summer times. Making me run up the hill. Making me do push-ups. Screaming at me from the sidelines at my games at eight or nine-years-old. We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street. Put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrifice for us. You’re the real MVP.
“I know by now you are approaching the age when you will embark on your own journey,” Owens wrote. “Might I make a suggestion? Pick up your adventures with Stanley where ours ended. Put him in your wallet,” he wrote. “You will undoubtedly face hard times. You will experience lows and uncertainty. But, whenever you feel despair or emptiness setting in, remember a saying I learned in the Army — ‘If you ever get to the point where it’s hopeless and nothing more can be done, you’ve overlooked something.’ And, if you need a second opinion, there silently, you will have a passenger, hanging out, folded up in your back pocket, that can vouch for me.” What an incredible journey for Flat Stanley. It’s must be tough being 2D.
We teach anyway. We teach anyway because that is what we do. Teaching and learning should bring joy. How powerful would our world be if we have kids who’re not afraid to take risks and who’re not afraid to think and who has a champion. Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insist that they become the best that they possibly can be.