Breanna Stewart hopped on a redeye flight from Seattle to Syracuse. She spent what she described as a “special day” with her mom and family Friday before rejoining the Storm on Saturday for a game in Dallas.
Breanna Stewart wasn’t going to miss this event even though her demanding WNBA schedule nearly prevented her attendance.
Her mom Heather — perhaps her biggest hero and fan — recently finished a two-year program to earn a graduate degree from SUNY Empire State College in New York, and Stewart had to be there.
It wasn’t easy, though.
Following the 101-74 victory last Thursday over Las Vegas at KeyArena, Stewart hopped on a redeye flight from Seattle to Syracuse. She spent what she described as a “special day” with her mom and family Friday before rejoining the Storm on Saturday for a game in Dallas — a 94-90 defeat in which Stewart had a season-high-tying 28 points.
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“I worked it out with (Storm president) Alisha (Valavanis) and (coach) Dan (Hughes),” Stewart said. “They were great about it.”
Crisscrossing the country between games was easy compared to keeping the visit a secret from her mom.
After Heather Stewart walked across the stage in cap and gown to receive her degree, ushers led her backstage where Breanna greeted her with a bouquet of flowers.
“That whole day I was texting her and was like, ‘Oh, I’m on a flight to Dallas’ and ‘Send me pictures of your graduation,’ ” Stewart said. “I had everything planned out. I worked with her school. They gave me the OK to help me surprise her.
“Once she walked on the stage, she took a picture and they had someone whisk her in a different direction. … She turned the corner and I was right there. She was so shocked. And she started crying.”
In her third season, Stewart is one of the biggest stars in the WNBA. She’s the league’s second-leading scorer, averaging 22.3 points per game for Seattle (5-2), which plays at Los Angeles (4-1) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
The homecoming last week provided a little perspective and allowed Stewart to thank the person she says helped her to her basketball success.
“It meant a lot to me because my mom puts everyone else first and she was finally able to go back and get her degree and finish school,” Stewart said. “She did that while still working and taking care of my (15-year-old) brother Conor and holding down the household.
“It’s not easy, and the fact that she was able to do it and she did it fairly quickly, wow. She’s amazing.”
Stewart capped her visit with a celebratory dinner at a nearby restaurant for the entire family when she gave her mother one more surprise — a new white 2018 Mercedes SUV with a red ribbon across the hood.
“She deserved it,” Stewart said. “Everything went perfect that day. She was so happy. She was on Cloud 9.”