All of those situations played out publicly and displayed how much the 33-year-old Lowry has matured personally and professionally, with marriage, fatherhood and unanticipated wealth changing his perspective over time. But Lowry managed to keep one of the more trying challenges of that campaign to himself: while he was approaching a long-awaited and career-validating moment, Lowry’s 82-year-old grandmother, Shirley Holloway, was approaching her final days.
Holloway passed three days after the Raptors won the championship, and Lowry’s mother, Marie Holloway, rationalized that she held on just long enough to see it happen. Had her grandson not saved his best NBA Finals performance — Lowry scored the Raptors’ first 11 points and finished with 26 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds — to close out the Warriors, and their arena, in Game 6, that might not have happened.
Lowry credits Shirley Holloway for giving him the stubborn personality that once got him in trouble but is now viewed as charming defiance. She died the morning of what would’ve been Game 7.
“Him and my mom had a special bond,” Marie Holloway said. “It was very much the emotional roller coaster; I can’t begin to tell you. The highest of the high. The lowest of the low. She probably knew the only way she could make it to the parade was to watch it from there.”
“It’s still something that, I don’t want to say bothers me, but it is what it is. Everything happens for a reason, but one thing you do question is death ,” Lowry said. “My mom had a great analogy: When she died, she made it to the parade before us. She was the first one there.”
The championship parade through Toronto was the day after her death, but moving on, thinking that his grandmother was celebrating in spirit, allowed Lowry to look anything but somber on those floats. He rocked the jersey of the Original Raptor, Damon Stoudamire, liberally sprayed champagne, gleefully (but unsuccessfully) led some Raptors fans to a chant of “five more years” for Kawhi Leonard and joked with rapper Drake and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I’ve never seen him so happy,” Lonnie said. “He was happy.”
Marie Holloway has noticed a difference in Lowry this offseason, as if he’s finally taken some time to appreciate the rewards that have come from all of the work he’s invested into the game. The championship was one of those aspirational achievements, much more than those five All-Star appearances, the Olympic gold medal or any other accomplishments from the late-bloomer’s better-with-time career. Those moments mattered, for sure, but this one hit differently.
“It’s crazy,” Lowry said of the feeling that the championship gave him. “You want to describe it but you don’t want to use the wrong adjectives. You want to use the right things, but it’s just pure emotions of joy.”
Lowry would love to sign an extension to stay with the Raptors but is prepared to enter free agency next summer. He stresses that his approach won’t change once he puts that diamond-encrusted ring on his finger on opening night. “I’m never satisfied with where I am in my life. I always want to be able to find a way to be better. It’s definitely satisfying. It’s unbelievable. But it’s not the end. I want to be able to do this again,” Lowry said. “When I won it, all I could think about was winning another one. You don’t ever want to have that feeling of not winning it. I think that’s what other champions will tell you. That feeling is undefeated. You can’t match that feeling. This is what we strive for.”
immy Richardson, a community outreach worker at Hank Gathers who coached Lowry from the time he started playing basketball at age 7.
“When that gentleman pushed him in the Finals, that showed me (Kyle’s) growth, his development, because the old Kyle probably would’ve snapped. But he didn’t snap, he kept his head. If he gets kicked out of the game, they might not (have won) and that trophy might not be here. So, we appreciate him keeping his head and staying strong.”
Returning home a champion was rewarding enough but the championship run was highlighted by an intense, seven-game series against the Philadelphia 76ers that was so intense Marie Holloway could barely enjoy, and it forced Ayahna, whom Kyle met in high school, to stay back in Toronto to avoid dealing with fans and family.
“I just wanted to beat them so that I could come home and do this, and be able to be comfortable,” said Lowry. “[Former Raptors guard and Philadelphia native] Alvin Williams told me he couldn’t stand the city because he lost to them in the playoffs [in 2001]. Not that he couldn’t stand it, but they always had something on him. And they ain’t got nothing on me right me now.
“I respect the city, I love the city, I love everything about it. They ‘**** you, die slow’ fans. But it’s home, though. I don’t throw anything in anybody’s face. That’s why you don’t see any Twitter rants, or Instagram rants. Y’all can say what y’all want. I never respond to people. People are still going to be negative. At the end of the day, people are still going to be negative. All I do is, I won it. I got a championship.”https://theathletic.com/1170762/2019/08/29/why-the-finals-run-which-coincided-with-the-death-of-his-grandmother-was-so-emotional-for-kyle-lowry/