“Mom Was On Her Death Bed”: Mavs Star Dereck Lively Narrates Painful Aftermath Of Late Mother’s Demise

Published 04/23/2024, 4:03 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

It had been a difficult few weeks for the Dallas Mavericks rookie, Dereck Lively. His greatest supporter and biggest fan, Kathy Drysdale, Dereck’s mother, passed away on April 12. She was battling cancer and succumbed to the illness at the age of 53. The then-Kathy Philips was a basketball player at Penn State, and there is no doubt that her son fell in love with the sport thanks to his mom.

Having sustained a sprained knee on March 31 against the Houston Rockets, Lively could spend the rehabilitation time with his mother. In hindsight, it would seem like the injury happened at the right time. The 20-year-old got to spend Kathy’s final days by her side. Returning after a long absence for his first playoffs appearanceLively’s 19-minute game was one of the better performances in Dallas’ Game 1 loss to the Clippers.

But his mother’s death was still fresh in his mind, as was seen from his answer to the Dallas Morning News‘s Brad Townsend. My mom was on her deathbed, and she shrugged her shoulders and was acting like nothing was happening,” he recounts. It was an attitude that his mom always embodied. It didn’t matter how hard things got, and Kathy Drysdale always made sure to face it head-on!


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Lively’s mother battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for 11 years. It’s hard being able to just try to not move on, but kind of just not act like nothing happened,” Dereck said, perfectly surmising the feeling everyone who lost someone to cancer can relate to. But Dereck is now a man on a mission. 

Dereck Lively II is determined to make his mama proud

Talking about the strong woman that his mother was, Dereck is just proud. No matter what was going on, no matter how she felt, she always kept it pushing… She passed the torch on to me, and I’ve got to carry it now, he said. Lively has been a standout rookie for the Mavs, learning from veterans and applying everything he learned in his position as a center.

Jason Kidd had only good things to say about him. Notably, he said that Likely’s ability to learn, absorb, and take lessons from life experiences was uncanny. He’s learned what the NBA is all about, and he has played for us at a high level,” the Mavs coach said. He wasn’t kidding!


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The regular season opener of Dallas saw him outplay rookie phenom and ‘generational talent‘ Wembanyama. Dereck was a starter in 42 games and was sidelined with four different injuries in his first season. More importantly, he remains strong and motivated just 11 days post his mother’s demise.

USA Today via Reuters

Discussing the mentality going into tonight’s Game 2, Lively said, Instead of taking the first punch, throw the first punch.” He further elaborated that it was crucial to be the aggressor and focus on the defensive end, yet be ready to get going offensively when the time comes. But he didn’t have any unrealistic expectations from his team.


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Dereck knew that there were going to be mistakes. But it was imperative to limit them as much as possible and take advantage of the ones that their opponents made. It was precisely what made the Mavericks rookie different from others. He is wise behind his years and matures. But Lively also has the goofy side that his fans and teammates love so much. A side that was characteristic of his late father and a side that his late mother loved so much.

Do you think the Mavericks will turn around the series after winning the 2nd game?


Written by:

Geisha Pulimoottil Don


One take at a time

Geisha, serving as an NBA Writer at EssentiallySports, actively engages in the coverage of breaking news, specializing particularly in injury reports. Demonstrating a notable proficiency in beat reporting, she is currently advancing her scope to include events, focusing specifically on refining her skills in play-by-play commentary through Live Blogs. Moreover, she maintains a vigilant watch on BTS narratives, recognizing their potential to shape or disrupt the NBA landscape.
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Edited by:

Jacob Gijy