Durant gives foster kids a Christmas surprise

Kevin Durant remembers how his Christmases as a kid always had a

degree of uncertainty of whether there would be presents under the


Now that he’s an NBA All-Star and a multimillionaire, he wants

to make the holidays a little bit brighter for children in


Durant, the NBA’s scoring leader, chose Oklahoma City-based

Citizens Caring for Children as the recipient of his annual

”Kevin’s Christmas” charity event. He surprised about 120 foster

children Saturday with a visit and gifts, including an iPod

shuffle, Thunder-themed Skullcandy headphones and Nike gear.

”I just wanted them to feel special on Christmas,” Durant

said. ”As a kid, you really don’t know the significance of what

Christmas really means except for getting gifts and being joyous

around this time. So, I want them to feel special. Hopefully, this

is something that they’re always going to remember for the rest of

their lives.

”I’m happy to say I was a part of that.”

Durant also gave the organization a flat-screen television, an

Xbox 360, a Wii and video games that the children can play in their

activity center. It’ll replace a failing 13-inch TV.

”They really are a lot of times forgotten during the

holidays,” said Amy Mitchell, the agency’s executive director.

”We all go home and spend time with our families and they’re

separated from theirs, so it’s so special that they took the time

to do this for these kids.”

After a pizza party and some free time for the kids to shoot

hoops, Durant called each child up individually to hand out a

bookbag filled with gifts that will be among the few received by

some of the children. Citizens Caring for Children also holds a toy

drive to ensure each child gets a gift, but some live in group

homes and don’t have foster families to provide for them.

”All of them are living without their families, so being able

to spend time with somebody like Kevin Durant during the holidays

is so special to them. I think it makes being away from their

families a little bit easier,” Mitchell said. ”It’s still hard.

But to know that somebody like him takes the time out of his

schedule to be with them, to show them that he cares and that

they’re special really means a lot.”

Durant signed a five-year, $85 million contract extension this

summer after becoming the NBA’s youngest scoring champion ever and

leading Oklahoma City to its first playoff appearance. But he

didn’t always have money.

”My mom surprised me and my brother a lot. She’d always say we

weren’t going to have a Christmas because we couldn’t afford it,

but then she would come back and (we would) wake up on Christmas

day with a lot of gifts,” Durant said.

”I had a lot of great Christmases and it’s a blessing to try to

do that and give back to the younger kids.”

Last year, Durant took three young boys on a shopping spree at

the mall and coordinated a ”Giving Tree” event for 100 children

in need. The previous year, he distributed coats, gloves, hats and

other items to about 60 children at an inner-city after-school


During his rookie year in Seattle, he took 26 needy children on

a shopping spree and then took them to dinner.

”I always look forward to it. It’s something new, something

bigger every year that I try to do,” Durant said. ”My mom did a

good job of coordinating everything and coming up with great ideas.

Everything went right as planned, and everything’s perfect right


”I’m excited, I’m happy and hopefully we can continue to just

do this every year and put smiles on kids’ faces.”

The Thunder’s Serge Ibaka and Morris Peterson also held a

charity event Saturday, distributing toys at a pizza party for

about 200 children.

”For us to give back to the less fortunate is obviously a

blessing. … Growing up, I didn’t see NBA players. I didn’t get to

interact with them,” Durant said. ”For me to provide something

that I didn’t have growing up means a lot to me. I’m just happy

I’ve got this opportunity, and I’m having fun.”

In addition to the toy drive, Citizens Caring for Children is

also trying to gather donations of new coats, pajamas and other

clothing in addition to duffel bags that they can distribute to


Those will serve the kids’ everyday needs, now that Durant has

helped out with the holidays.

”Kevin’s the Santa this year,” Mitchell said. ”He’s a very

tall Santa.”

Online: http://www.citizenscaringforchildren.org