Thunder Players Complete Home Project

PAUL WILSON / OKC Thunder photos

Standing in her kitchen, near her new dining room table, on her fresh green carpet, Ethel Ann Cheatham gave her newly renovated home a once-over.

For the last four days, members of the Thunder organization and Rebuilding Together had gutted, cleaned, painted, refurbished and installed everything necessary for Cheatham and her two grandchildren to live comfortable, clean and modest lives.

And during that span, dozens if not hundreds of photographs were taken, detailing every step of the process. The photos make for a really nice before-and-after slideshow, but Cheatham does not need images to remind her of just how fortunate she had become.

Cheatham saw it all unfold with her own eyes. The experiences will resonate deep in her mind.

''I'll have the memories forever,'' she said. ''A long time is saying the least. I'll keep them forever.''

Forever will Cheatham remember how her caved-in bathroom floor and bare walls were given a complete makeover, what with new tiles and paint.

How the rear bedroom was painted Thunder blue, decked out in team gear and had a wall autographed by nearly every member of the team.

How her front door, which was missing a lock, was replaced with a fully functional entryway, equipped with a new paint job thanks to forward Desmond Mason.

How Kevin Durant, standing in a now-spacious living room, surrounded by brand new couches courtesy of Galleria, installed five light bulbs high atop her new chandelier.

How Damien Wilkins and Earl Watson helped assemble a new bed for Cheatham's 12-year-old niece, her room splattered in a bevy of pink accessories.

How Robert Swift and Nenad Krstic, both 7 feet tall, effortlessly hung up white blinds atop new storm-proof windows.

How Chucky Atkins entertained the half dozen or so children who frolicked about the house, the veteran guard sporting a smile from ear to ear, cradling a 1-year-old baby boy as they toured each room.

How Durant, Kyle Weaver and Shaun Livingston put together a basketball hoop and stand in the Cheatham's backyard, children surrounding them as Rumble the Bison tossed a basketball around to keep the kids' minds off the whipping wind and on having fun.

And a majority of that happened on Monday, the final day of the half-week project on Cheatham's NW 34th Street home.

''Anytime you get a chance to put a smile on somebody else's face, make their day, it means the world to me and I'm sure it does for these players,'' Weaver said. ''It's great to give back like this. It's been a lot of progress.''

It was at approximately 3:36 on Monday afternoon when a white limousine pulled up in front of Cheatham's house, and out came the Thunder's D.J. White, Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha, along with Cheatham and her two grandchildren.

Cheatham and the Thunder trio had just come from a surprise pickup at her grandkids' school. When they arrived home, the grandchildren were greeted by Rumble, nearly the entire Thunder team, General Manager Sam Presti, other members of the Basketball Operations staff and Rebuilding Together workers.

As the kids scurried from room to room to check things out, Cheatham walked slowly through the living room, her eyes wide, before letting out a few hearty laughs. Cheathamss house hadn't been this clean, the inside this visible, in at least five years.

''It just made it so much more comfortable for me to be in the house, much easier for me to get up and get out of here in the morning on my way to take the kids to school,'' she said. ''Well, you could just imagine. You've seen how cluttered it was, and I don't stay up real late and clean like I did five years ago. This helps out tremendously. I'm just going to work real hard to not let it get cluttered again.''

With a house full of Cheatham's friends and family, media members and the Thunder, Mason, leaning up against the dining room wall, said under his breath, ''That’s awesome.''

Durant, like many of his teammates, had seen pictures of what the house looked like before the Thunder and Rebuilding Together took over. Durant was privileged to help.

''It means a lot to help a family out, make their day better, make them smile,'' Durant said. ''It feels good to us … We left our mark here and hopefully we'll do it for a lot of other families as well.''