A Mother's Love--Vanessa & Clent Stewart

There was a wonderful article about the relationship between Clent Stewart and his mom. As I write this her funeral is going on and it seemed appropriate to share this with all of you....


Sat February 9, 2008

K-State's 'motivator' deals with tragic loss
By Andrea Cohen

Staff Writer

Clent Stewart drove from Manhattan, Kan., to Norman early Monday morning to tell his mother he loved her.

On her deathbed, she responded: "Play hard.”

Play hard. Study hard. These were messages Vanessa Stewart ingrained in her son as he was growing up in Tulsa. She passed her wisdom to Clent, now a senior at Kansas State, one last time on Monday. She died Tuesday after a long struggle with breast cancer.

"My dad called me Sunday at one in the morning to let me know she wasn't doing very well,” Stewart said. "He never told me ‘Come down here right now.' He said ‘Do what you have to do. Take care of your responsibilities.' That's exactly what my mom would say.”
Stewart left first thing Monday morning.

"I felt very fortunate that I got to tell her I loved her,” Stewart said Friday. "It's tough. She was a big inspiration in my life. We're trying to make it through.”

Stewart's Kansas State teammates flew to Norman Friday night to mourn with Stewart and his family, then turned around and flew back for this evening's game against Oklahoma State. Vanessa's funeral is this morning. The No. 20 Wildcats host OSU today at 5 p.m. Stewart said he does not plan to play today but hopes to return for K-State's game Wednesday in Lubbock.
Last week the Wildcats wore pink warmup tops in honor of Vanessa, and have sewn patches that say "V.S” onto their uniforms. Freshman Michael Beasley told the Kansas City Star that the team was thinking of Stewart the whole game.

"Clent is the motivator before the game, keeps us together during the game,” Beasley told the paper. "He does the little things as well as the big things. We showed we can play without him, but it's much easier when he's here.”

Stewart said his teammates' support — and the support of the Oklahoma basketball community he grew up in — has been amazing. His voice mail is full, and he's received about 80 text messages, including one from OSU sophomore Obi Muonelo, who played AAU ball a couple years behind Stewart.

Stewart, an excellent student at Tulsa Union, was offered scholarships by Stanford, Vanderbilt and Tulsa. He chose Kansas State in large part to stay close to his mom, who was diagnosed with cancer when he was in high school. Regular fixtures around Union, the Stewarts also made most K-State home games.

"You couldn't ask for a better person to be supporting your program,” Union basketball coach Rudy Garcia said. "To raise a son like Clent — he's the kind of guy we talk to our guys about now. He's a great leader, a great human and a reflection of her.”

The last game Vanessa attended was K-State's historic win over Kansas last month.
"That being the last game she got to see means everything,” Stewart said. "My coach awarded me with the game ball afterward. He said ‘With everything he's going through and how he played he deserves it.' I let her know that and it meant so much.”

Garcia has remained close to the family even after they moved from Tulsa to Norman. He said Stewart is like a son to him and calls "when he's unsure about things.” He said the timing is especially heartbreaking given K-State's basketball situation. Stewart went to K-State when the program was near the bottom of the Big 12. Stewart is now a starter on a 16-5 team challenging for the conference title and should play in the NCAA Tournament.

Said Garcia: "I was praying his mom would be around to see him do that.”

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