Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant is a wealthy man, having made millions playing the game of basketball. But he didn’t start out that way.
As a young boy growing up in Seat Pleasant, Md., he hails from a small community he describes as “a 95 percent black neighborhood with 80 percent of us living in poverty,” in an open letter for The Undefeated.
He describes his childhood as being driven by “a laser focus on achieving what was necessary to leave my community” but now wishes his eyes had been more wide open.
“I didn’t want to abandon my hometown, but there was always something going on: police brutality, poverty, crime. In order to get out of this mess, I ultimately had to turn a blind eye to what was going on,” Durant wrote. “I had to ignore it. And I felt like basketball was the only way I could get out of that wreckage. Looking back at my childhood, I wish I would have just opened my eyes.”
He now realizes he can make a positive impact in his community. And while he regrets he didn’t realize this sooner, he wrote, “today I can make amends to my community by providing hope and joy to people who come from where I come from and that struggle the way I struggled. Now I am aware of the problems.”
Durant also expressed he feels he’s living a double life somewhat: “one as an NBA player and another as a black man from an impoverished neighborhood.”
He’s now dedicated to investing in the community, and its children. Near the end of the open letter, Durant opens up about the advice he has for the young men and women of Seat Pleasant.
“If I could give some advice to the youth of Seat Pleasant, it would be to find something that you love and do it as if your life depends on it. It sounds cliché, but it’s really that simple. If you put your mind to it, have faith and seek support, all with the foundation of a strong work ethic, the world will open for you. And once the world is open for you, then the conversations with close friends and family about how we can effect further progress in our communities will come from your own fulfillment, joy and freedom. So try to find your passion every day. See what the world has for you.”
We highly encourage you to read the entire letter, which is wonderfully written and full of passion. Durant clearly has a huge heart to make others’ lives better using the influence he now wields.
Recently, Durant matched Colin Kaepernick with a $10,000 donation to Silicon Valley DeBug, a community organizing and advocacy group in the Bay Area. He has also recently funded two basketball courts in Oakland, which is part of the work he does for The Kevin Durant Foundation “Build it and they will ball” global initiative.