The real MVP

Duke’s Coach K tells players to look to their mothers to understand real effort and success

Mike Krzyewski, the head coach of the Duke Blue Devils. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

As the NCAA basketball season gets underway, legendary college basketball coach Mike ‘Coach K’ Krzyzewski had some perhaps surprising advice to offer his young team — learn to “be as tough as your mothers.”

In video from ESPN’s new series Earn Everything, cameras captured the famously fiery coach addressing his team in a speech highlighting the importance of hard work and giving one’s all on every play of every game. To emphasize the point, Coach K pointed out that in his own life, and in those of many, the hardest working person they knew was much closer to home then they initially realized — or appreciated.

“What’s one of the things that gets you out of it?” asked Krzyzewski.

“Tired,” replied one player.

“Tired. Tired,” the coach repeated. “And when you’re tired, what do you start thinking about? You. ‘I’m tired.’ When you’re home, you say, ‘Mom, I’m tired,’ and you expect some sympathy or [a hug]. ‘Oh, baby.’

“Don’t be tired. Don’t be tired. My mother, God bless her, I never saw my mom sick. In other words, when I grew up, I woke up everyday and my mom was there. I took it for granted. She’s never tired — or she never showed it. Be as tough as your mothers. They show up all the time, alright, and we need to show up all the time. Be as tough as your mothers.”

Krzyzewski’s words echoed a similar sentiment expressed by NBA superstar Kevin Durant when he accepted the Most Valuable Player award in 2014.

“We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street. You put clothes on our backs. You put food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate and [you] went to sleep hungry,” Durant said, tears coming to his eyes. “You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”

Watch video of Coach K’s speech below.

Read the full story at USA Today.

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