College Track at The Durant Center, with a $10 million endowment, will provide college scholarships and support to youth from KD’s hometown.
The Golden State Warriors and Washington Wizards meet up tonight at 8:00 PM in D.C.
But the most magnificent move that you’ll see Kevin Durant make actually took place yesterday. The Maryland native was back home in Prince George’s County for the grand opening of an after-school facility that bears his name.
And this is no run-of-the-mill after-school program with mystery-meat sandwiches, ping-pong tables and some basketballs thrown in with the occasional homework tutoring.
Just like he’s done in the NBA, already establishing himself as one of the game’s all-time greats, he’s proving that real G’s do real things in the game of life as well.
College Track at The Durant Center, with a $10 million endowment from the nine-time All-Star, will provide scholarships, tutoring and support to neighborhood youth. The goal is to aid them in getting into college and supporting them through the completion of their Bachelor’s Degree requirements.
The Warriors excused Durant and teammate Quinn Cook, a childhood friend from P.G. County who grew up in the Hyattsville area, from practice so they could be on hand yesterday.
The brand new facility is close to the Suitland neighborhood and the Seat Pleasant Activity Center, where Durant was reared and often teased because his hands and clothes were always dirty due to his addiction of playing basketball wherever and whenever he could.
Sensing his innate drive, Taras “Stink” Brown, who served as the resident basketball guru at Seat Pleasant, became committed to Durant’s development, along with others who exhibited a willingness and aptitude for his boot camp-like program.
Durant worked his way through an endless maze of drills over the years – every assortment of sprint, crab-walk, defensive step slide, ball handling, passing, rebounding and shooting drills imaginable.
Outside of the physical repetitiveness designed to burn the fundamentals and mechanics into his muscle memory, an advanced academics component consisting of video breakdown and required reading was also part of the curriculum.
“Between the ages of 10 and 16, Kevin put in eight-hour days during the summer,” Brown told Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl in 2007.
“Some days I wouldn’t pick up a basketball,” Durant told Wahl. “He’d put 60 minutes on the clock and say I had to do defensive drills the whole time.”
There were also written assignments, such as composing, 500 times, Stink’s six successive elements of a jump shot – “Square Up, Eyes on the Basket, Jump Hard, Step Back Quickly, Loft the Ball and Follow Through.”
And then, there was the quadriceps-burning, 75-foot incline of Hunt’s Hill and the ensuing backwards jog to the bottom. The drill was completed after 25 up-and-down sequences.
“The average kid wouldn’t do it,” Brown told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News. “I’ve had kids run it with him. They get to the top and keep on going. Not Kevin. Kevin always kept coming back.”
Durant reached his breaking point once with Brown’s military-like demands, while executing a drill at the age of thirteen where he was required to stand for an hour, frozen in the proper shooting form. He’d finally had enough and stormed out. Two hours later, he was back.
KD often took naps at the center. Other kids made fun of him because he ostracized himself in the cocoon of the game, always carrying a ball that often left the dirty remnants of his pursuits stained on his white t-shirts. But he could care less.
“Basketball became my priority,” Durant told The San Antonio Express News. “I didn’t let anything get in the way of that.”
Between his freshman and sophomore years of high school, Durant grew six inches, sprouting to 6′7″. After ripping through his first two seasons at National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Maryland, he arrived at the esteemed Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.
During his first action at Oak Hill, the summer before his junior year, the 15-year-old Durant was matched up against a teammate, 18-year-old Josh Smith, in a scrimmage a few months shy of Smith’s selection by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA draft.
“Kevin didn’t back down at all,” Oak Hill coach Steve Smith told the San Antonio Express News. “He held his own.”
Despite what he’d go on to accomplish at the University of Texas, and the hundreds of millions he’d earn due to his NBA brilliance, Durant never forgot about those kids in his hometown who were never given the option of chasing their dreams.
“[This is] The full-circle stuff that you dream about,” Durant told the Washington Post. “So many people that meant so much to me at that time, and to see my name on the building …”
Durant also donated nearly $60,000 for new basketball courts at the Seat Pleasant Activity Center as well.
In today’s age, where elite athletes are bringing their power to the financial and human services sectors as part of this new wave of athlete-activism, the KD’s, LeBron’s, Steph Curry’s and many others on the sports landscape are leaving legacies that extend far beyond any basketball argument.
Salute, KD, as your impact on the community that reared you will be felt for generations to come.