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Kevin Durant

Seat Pleasant celebrates Kevin Durant Day

NBA champion and Finals MVP was on hand for a parade in his hometown

SEAT PLEASANT, Maryland — After Kevin Durant spoke in the Seat Pleasant Activity Center to a gymnasium full of kids, family, friends and admirers on Thursday, he made his way out the back door to a black, extended cab van. Before taking his seat on the left-hand side of the vehicle, Durant moved through the crowd signing autographs, dapping people up and hugging people from his Seat Pleasant neighborhood.

In the front of the crowd there was a group of little boys yelling, “KD, KD, KD,” handing him books, T-shirts and jerseys. Little kids who couldn’t reach the front begged their mothers, fathers and older siblings to find a way to reach Durant so they could go home with signed paraphernalia as well. Even when Durant disappeared into the van, his mother, Wanda Durant, entered it continuing to hand him material to sign until the van and motorcade finally took off.

Earlier in the day, Durant, his friends and family rode in a parade around his native Seat Pleasant during Kevin Durant Day, which celebrated his first NBA championship, NBA Finals MVP and all of his charity to the Prince George’s County city. Durant sat in the back of a Chevrolet Corvette and rode from Hill Road to Seat Pleasant Drive to Addison Road. He took a short break just past Greendale Recreation Center on Crown Street.

“I appreciate all of the love and support. It’s amazing,” Durant said during the ceremony.

After stopping to sign autographs on Crown Street, Durant headed to the SPAC, where he received the Governor’s Citation from Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III presented both Kevin and Wanda Durant with recognition for their contributions to the city, county and state.

There was a push on social media for Seat Pleasant to have a day honoring Durant after he averaged 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game in the Golden State Warriors’ five-game Finals victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A festival after the parade was originally planned, but because more than 10,000 people signed up to attend the parade with many more expected, the festival has been postponed until next year’s Seat Pleasant Day, which will be held at FedEx Field on a date to be determined. Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene W. Grant explained that the decision stemmed from concerns about the overcapacity creating a safety issue.

“Social media went crazy after the championship win, and people were saying something needs to be done for Kevin,” Grant said. “We went to work and reached out to all of our partners in the community and asked them to be a part of a committee to plan this event. People were very gracious with their time and their energy.

“This is something that will allow the entire community to come together. … We’re just excited for the opportunity to honor one of our favorite sons here in Seat Pleasant. This is a day of pride for us. And particularly as a black man myself, and to see young black men in our community, to see Kevin Durant, who has reached the levels and pinnacles that he has reached, certainly is an inspiring story. He did not come from a silver spoon in his mouth; he came from a community just like these young people live in today. This is a story that we want to make certain that our young people are able to look to and be inspired by and know that the future is hopeful, even for them.”

More than 300 volunteers gave their time to make Kevin Durant Day happen. Some of those helping out included Deon Douglas, Micah Johnson and Curtis Smith, who have all known Durant since he was younger.

Each of the three men watched Durant’s game develop with his youth team, the Prince George’s Jaguars, in high school with Oak Hill Academy in Virginia and Montrose Christian in Maryland, in college with the Texas Longhorns and in the pros with the Seattle SuperSonics, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Warriors.

Douglas knew early on that Durant would be an out-of-this-world talent.

“He’s a sight to see in action,” Douglas said. “He can shoot very well. How he uses his personality in his game, his demeanor … just watch him play.”

Smith recalled how back in the day all of the basketball players had to go through Barry Farms outdoor basketball courts in Southeast Washington, D.C., where the Goodman League is held, if they wanted to be taken seriously in the area.

Durant went out there, did what he had to do and forged the toughness people see in his game to this day.

In Smith’s mind, it shouldn’t have taken Durant winning a championship for him to get a day, considering Durant’s philanthropy and community service in the area. In May, Durant donated two new basketball courts to Seat Pleasant Elementary School and the Seat Pleasant Activity Center, with his mother cutting the ribbon on his behalf. Walk inside the SPAC and there’s an entire room dedicated to Durant, and he has donated a scoreboard and other needed items to the place where he learned to play the game.

“I think this should be an annual event,” Smith said. “Even if he don’t win the championship, because he supports the community. He’s not bashful about making appearances or things like that, so outside looking in, I think this should be an annual thing. It’s special because he won a championship. … I’m just looking forward to a big, great day.”

Grant said there have been discussions about having future Kevin Durant Days.

Johnson said: “The importance of this day is, ‘Hey, I came from the same place. Hey, I walked down the same streets.’ Just grab your potential and go for it. Work hard. He works hard at his craft. Like anything you want to be good at, you’re going to have to work hard.

“So, hopefully, some young kids will see that you can be a champion. It might take you 10 years to get there, and be littered with different obstacles, but you can still get there.”

Rhiannon Walker is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a drinker of Sassy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, an owner of an extensive Disney VHS collection, and she might have a heart attack if Frank Ocean doesn't drop his second album.