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Culture Watch: Dear Mama, in advance of Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is coming up, so we spoke with Marie Hollaway, mother of none other than Kyle Lowry, to talk about what goes into raising an NBA All-Star.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors - Game Two Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

For most, our mothers are our biggest fans from before they even meet us. Their daydreams become not of themselves, but of us, of our accomplishments, our personalities, our firsts, our lasts, and everything in between. Their wants and needs slide to second behind those of their children. They do this without cognizance, because this is just what mothers do.

Marie Hollaway has spent her entire life in Northern Philadelphia. It is here she developed unbreakable bonds with her two brothers and late sister. It is here she ran track and field, played tennis, and played softball. It is here she became a mother; first to Lonnie, and five years later, to Kyle Lowry.

Her sons, she says, were good children all around. It was Lonnie, after all, who patiently and tirelessly taught Kyle to play basketball. The Kyle we see on the court, doing just enough to get under the opposing players’ (and referees) skin without getting into any major trouble, is the same Kyle that Marie remembers from childhood. Marie recalls a moment in Kyle’s youth where she received a call from one of his teachers. His crime? Adding a little something to his teacher’s computer. The image? Smiley faces. She laughs, when reminded of the incident: “How are you going to even be mad at that?”

Kyle, now 32 years old, may still exhibit the carefree and, at times, silly personality traits he has sharpened since his school days. But as fans have watched him grow on the court, his mother has watched him blossom into a man any mother would be proud to call a son.

“Both Lonnie, and Kyle are amazing fathers,” Marie says. She attributes this not only to her parenting, but to their desire to be everything for their respective children that their father was not. Becoming a single mother was not Marie’s intention, but just as Kyle did when traded to Toronto in 2012, Marie made the best out of her situation, and the reward would pay off greatly. Marie’s admirable ability to roll with the punches is just one of many transcendent strengths she has passed down to her sons.

No matter what happens to Kyle on the court, his sons, Karter and Kameron, will never be on the receiving end of his frustration. Always greeted with a smile, and even a kiss after ejection, the boys will never know their father as anything but fun-loving, doting, Dad. When times were tough for Marie, raising two growing boys on her own, she was determined not to let them know it. Ms. Hollaway worked incessantly to provide her sons with every opportunity. Her sacrifices, she says, were never confessed to Kyle and Lonnie, and in their late teens they understood that when Mom had to say no, it was for good reason. Kyle’s ability to remain positive for the sake of his children is yet another incredible characteristic inherited from his warrior mother.

Kyle Lowry may be in the best physical shape of his career at the moment, but when he returns home to Philadelphia in the off-season, Marie knows exactly what he will be eating. “It’s no secret that Kyle’s favourite food is pancakes,” she says. Both Lonnie and Kyle always wanted pancakes, or any breakfast foods, when Marie would ask them what they wanted to eat. Her sons were not the only ones who craved her breakfasts fit for kings. Both boys’ friends always wanted to sleep over at he house because they knew that when the sun would rise, an exquisite meal would be waiting for them.

Though Kyle’s love of basketball came from his older brother, his athleticism, drive, and competitiveness were all instilled in him from his mother. At six weeks old, before they could even properly hold their heads up, both Kyle and Lonnie were on the softball field with Marie, who played until she was 30. Their family home was directly across the street from Connie Mack Stadium, the former home of the Philadelphia Phillies. By a year old, both boys had tiny basketballs, footballs, baseballs, and more. An avid sports fan herself, Marie used sports as one of the countless ways she could connect with her sons.

With both of her children out of the house, Marie now spends her time watching her Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl, and any other Philadelphia sports she can fit into a day — except of course when the Raptors play, which takes precedent. Her other small screen guilty pleasures include NCIS, Blue Bloods, Love and Hip Hop, Scandal, Real Housewives of Atlanta (the only good one), and Criminal Minds. Vacationing has become one of Marie’s preferred, and much deserved hobbies, including a trip to All-Star weekend this past February with Diane DeRozan, mother of Kyle’s teammate and best friend, DeMar DeRozan. Her number one hobby, however, is spending time with her family.

The small silver lining in the Raptors’ post-season coming to a halt is that Marie will be able to relish in the company of her grandsons, Karter, six, and Kameron, who will be three in July. With Kameron and Karter’s off-season home just 30 minutes from their Grandma, and Desirae and Markus, Kyle’s niece and nephew and Marie’s eldest grandchildren also only half an hour away, the summer of 2018 will be one that Marie treasure until the end of time, even if it means making Kyle pancakes every morning.

Despite being an accomplished athlete herself, witnessing both of her sons becoming extraordinary fathers, men, and role models is what Marie Hollaway is most proud of in her life. Both men possess a desire to help others, an open heart and mind, and loyalty, all of which Marie made it her mission to pass down to them. Their hard work and dedication are direct results of her maternal influence. It isn’t always easy, however, to have a son whose career is so highly and publicly scrutinized. The masses often forget that these men are human; they have feelings, they have bad days at work just like the rest of us, and they are someone’s sons.

It took a long time for Marie to be able to deal with the hate and negativity directed at her baby boy. Her frustration, she says, is that people only see the money. They do not see how hard Kyle has worked to get to where he is, or the sacrifices he’s made. Knowing just how hard her son has worked, and watching as strangers on the internet doubt and slander him, sends Marie into instant Mama Bear mode. It took a close friend reminding Marie that these people should be paid no mind, as the people insulting Kyle could never do in their dreams what he does every single night. Nevertheless, a mother bear’s natural reaction is to protect her cub, even when that cub is a 32-year-old millionaire.

So, if you’re now reading this on Mother’s Day, call your mom, or your grandmother, or your step-mother, or whoever it may be. Hug her. She’s made more sacrifices than you will ever know, and she loves you more than you can even begin to understand. If my mom is reading this, I love you dearly. You are truly my dearest friend and you were right about everything. If you are a teenager and reading this, please re-read that last sentence because one day it will ring true for you as well.

Kyle Lowry, if you’re reading this, you are so incredibly lucky. Your mom, Marie Hollaway, is a superhero.

Marie Hollaway during son Kyle Lowry’s first NBA All Star game, 2015.
@blessedmom07