He is arguably basketball’s greatest show on the court, and off it he can be as ordinary as a neighbor. Sure, he gets to golf with the president and appear on popular talk shows. He has millions of fans to go with his millions of dollars.
But all of that gets compartmentalized and eventually pressed beneath the part of him that’s been groomed from birth. And the constant struggle is to enjoy the spoils that come with being Mr. Curry, courtesy of the accomplishments of Steph, without losing the essence of Stephen.
That essence is best exemplified, and maintained, through his relationship with Ayesha. It is impossible to really know the NBA star without being confronted with her importance. She is the assurance that Stephen never leaves, and he cherishes her role in keeping that part of him prevalent.
That’s why the best portrait of Wardell Stephen Curry II, the person behind the star, can be found in his marriage. And the public image of their marriage — the happy couple that has endless fun together — pales in comparison to how they are away from the spotlight.
“It’s so beautiful. I just really look and say, ‘Ugh,’” Steph’s mom, Sonya, said, playfully pointing her finger down her throat before breaking into laughter. “Sometimes, I’m just like, are you serious? Seriously? They’re so perfect.”
One balmy night in Oakland, still buzzed from the Warriors’ Game 1 win over Houston in the first round of the 2016 playoffs, the couple had dinner at Ozumo, a Japanese restaurant. Curry had gotten the first of his two playoff injuries that night. At the time the injury to his right foot late in the first half seemed like a minor blip to wrapping up the championship season, so they went and enjoyed night life in the ever-popular Uptown. It was at dinner they learned about the Kirk Franklin concert going on down the street at the Paramount. They immediately searched the internet for tickets, to no avail.
After dinner, they took their sweet time walking to the car. The 79-degree day had left some warmth for the evening air. The soothing breeze was like a whisper in their ears as they held hands walking down West Grand Avenue. It was the perfect setting for their own impromptu concert. They didn’t get to see Kirk Franklin live, but they could do Kirk Franklin live. Right there on the sidewalk, they broke out singing “Lean on Me” — a kind of “We Are the World” collaboration featuring R. Kelly and Bono. Ayesha, ever the actress, put some feeling into it when they got to Mary J. Blige’s part.
One passer-by even shot them a crazy look, like the Currys were weirdos, until she realized who they were and gasped in shock.