When the 21-year-old Georgetown University basketball star Roy Hibbert was drafted into the NBA by the Toronto Raptors in 2008, then traded immediately to the Indiana Pacers, it wasn’t only Hibbert who didn’t know what to expect. Neither did his mother. “It was my only child,” Paddy Hibbert told me. “It was hard for me to see him go out there and face that world of competitiveness, of traveling.” Hibbert wanted to help, but what did she know about the NBA? Unable to think of anything better, she found a general contact number for the NBA’s headquarters in New York, and phoned to ask for guidance. But the man who answered couldn’t help her.
Then, through a helpful youth coach, she found a number for Marsha Mason Wonsley, whose son, Roger Mason Jr., played for the Washington Wizards. Wonsley told her about an organization called Mothers of Professional Basketball Players, or MPBP. An upcoming meeting was to be held in Las Vegas. Hibbert flew out from Washington, D.C., to seek advice. As the mothers introduced themselves one by one, Hibbert stood nervously. “I’m Roy’s mom,” she told the hundred-odd women who had assembled. “Little Roy. He’s 7 feet tall.”
Started in 1996 as a collaboration of 23 mothers from around the NBA, today MPBP is open to mothers of players in the WNBA, the G League (the NBA’s version of the minor league), and professional leagues abroad. Early members included the mothers of Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter, and Shaquille O’Neal. Current members include the mothers of today’s stars such as Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade. MPBP is made up of about 100 mothers, each of whom pays annual dues of $300.