When Kevin Durant gave his tearful MVP speech in 2014, the NBA star made sure to thank the one person who had been there with him from the very beginning: his mother.
His heartfelt words about the sacrifices she made for Durant and his brother led to a Lifetime movie about her journey as a single parent, “The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story.”
Today, the NBA superstar’s mom travels the country as an motivational speaker and philanthropist. On Monday, she spoke at Thomson Reuters’ in New York about her personal struggles to achieve financial stability and shared with CNBC Make It the financial advice she gave her son when he entered the league.
“I wanted him to realize you have worked hard,” she says, “and it is OK for you to enjoy yourself because of your hard work. But it is also imperative that you prepare for your future.”
She described her son as a frugal person — even as a kid he didn’t require much to be happy. While she advised him to enjoy the rewards of his labor, Durant says she also wanted to make sure that her son knew the importance of financial planning, a lesson she didn’t grasp until later in life.
“My mother worked hard for us, but she was in a moment of survival,” says Durant, who was one of three children raised in the single-parent household. He says that his mother worked hard to provide for the family and prepare for emergencies but didn’t have the resources to plan for the future.
She tells the audience that when she found herself a single parent to two children at 21, she followed the financial principles she had been raised on. Rather than planning for the future, she focused solely on how her money could make ends meet for the moment.
“As I reflect back on those times, I did have a little that I could have put away for twenty to thirty years down the road,” she said. “But because I didn’t have an understanding of what money could do, other than to provide the necessities of life, that’s where I was.”
Now, Durant says she is more mindful of her money and the value it holds. She’s also worked to teach her two sons about the value of money and it seems to be paying off.
Outside of basketball, Kevin has invested in the investing app Acorns, purchased a stake in the on-demand delivery service Postmates and also owns a stake in The Players’ Tribune.
Recently, he’s teamed up with Laurene Powell Jobs for a new philanthropic venture called College Track and is aimed at helping disadvantaged kids attend college. As part of the initiative, Durant has committed to donating $10 million to his hometown’s public school system.
“We didn’t have the resources to get our minds thinking about the next level,” he told The Washington Post. “I want to do my part, whatever it is. If College Track students want to be the next Steve Jobs or the next influencer or the next tastemakers, they can get there.”
Durant’s mom says that in addition to his financial decisions, she is proud of his philanthropic work and his desire to help the community.
“I thought giving back was always very important, and so we talked about that and he had seen that from us as a family and it’s one of the things that I taught him,” she says.