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OAKLAND, California (AP) — His voice cracked first. Then, his eyes got red. Finally, Stephen Curry cried.
He had felt this way in the past — when he barely received any university scholarship offers out of high school, when some questioned whether his game could translate to the NBA, when he sat in a doctor's office searching for answers on how to fix his troublesome right ankle.
Curry could let it all out and laugh now. This was a time for celebration.
The Golden State Warriors point guard won the NBA's Most Valuable Player award Monday, the biggest moment yet of a young career already full of overcoming obstacles.
Curry received the Maurice Podoloff Trophy in a packed hotel ballroom below Golden State's practice facility. He shook his head in disbelief as he was announced as the winner of the league's top individual honor.
"There were obviously good times and bad times. Times I wanted to shut it down. Times where you realize that all the hard work you put into it was worth it," Curry said. "It just made me realize how blessed and thankful I really am to be in this position."
Curry received 100 of 130 first-place votes for a total of 1,198 points from a panel of 129 writers and broadcasters, along with the fan vote on the NBA's website. Houston's James Harden had 25 first-place votes and 936 points. Cleveland's LeBron James, a four-time MVP, got five first-place votes and 552 points.
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (352 points) finished fourth and New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis (203 points) was fifth.
Curry's family informed him of the news at his house after Golden State's win over Memphis in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday. Curry was pulled into a room by his basketball-playing brother, Seth, and opened the door to see everyone wearing personalized MVP T-shirts.
"It was a great moment that I'll remember for the rest of my life," Curry said.
On Monday, he was joined on stage by Warriors coach Steve Kerr, general manager Bob Myers and his teammates — praising each of them individually. He got emotional talking about his pregnant wife, Ayesha, and their 2-year-old daughter, Riley, who sat in the front row with the rest of his family.
And he shed a few tears talking about his father, Dell.
"A lot of people thought I had it easy with pops playing in the NBA," he said, shaking his head.
Across the country, James called Curry the "catalyst" for Golden State's rise from perennial loser to championship contender.
"I think it's great that another kid born in Akron, Ohio, can win an MVP, so I liked it," said the Cavaliers star, an Akron native.
Curry, now 27, was born in Akron but grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he started in the shadows of his father.
Despite his famous name, most major universities didn't offer Curry a scholarship because they thought he was too small. The 6-foot-3 (1.90-meter) Curry proved them all wrong, developing into a polished professional who can shoot, dribble and pass with the best of them.
Curry carried the top-seeded Warriors to a club-record 67 wins, surpassed his own NBA record for most 3-pointers in a season and added to his growing reputation as one of the most entertaining spectacles in sports. He's the team's first MVP since Wilt Chamberlain in 1960, when the Warriors played in Philadelphia.
But there were times it seemed Curry's potential might not be reached. Two operations on his right ankle in his first three seasons with Golden State fueled questions about his durability.
Curry signed a $44 million, four-year contract extension with the Warriors before the 2012-13 season. Back then, the deal looked like a major risk.
Now, he's one of basketball's best bargains.
Myers recalled sitting in a doctor's office with Curry years ago listening to the results on the point guard's injured ankle.
"I remember thinking that day, 'This can't be how his career goes. This isn't how it's supposed to be,'" Myers said. "And then I fast forward in my own mind to today and I sit here sharing a stage with him thinking, 'This is how it's supposed to be for Steph. This is the conclusion of four years of work and effort.'"
AP sports writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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