By Kent Larsen
BYU Hoops Star Wesley Climbs Back From Own Mistake
PROVO, UTAH -- Meleki Wesley has climbed back from a difficult error, and is
now demonstrating not only his talent, but the maturity he had learned from
the climb back. His error was a difficult one for someone in an LDS
community: his girlfriend became pregnant with his son just as his BYU
basketball career was picking up steam. But while the climb back to the team
and to the same high level of performance was difficult, Wesley says it made
him a better person.
Wesley came to BYU in the fall of 1997, helping new coach Steve Cleveland
rescue the team from a near-total disaster. The team managed to pull out
nine wins (out of 30), with Wesley playing well on occasion and showing a
lot of promise.
But the following March, his girlfriend, Montell, got pregnant, delaying
Wesley's BYU career and cancelling his plans to serve an LDS mission. The
pregnancy also led to his marriage to Montell and to fatherhood, at an
earlier age than he had dreamed. It also marked the beginning of Wesley's
long climb back to BYU.
It has been a long struggle. Disciplined by BYU, Wesley spend a year
studying at Salt Lake Community College, during which his son, Keliano, was
born. He managed to re-enroll in BYU, but even then discovered that he had a
lot of work to do to pick up where he left off. That year he made a "small
contribution" to BYU. "I probably should have redshirted that year," he
says. "My body wasn't really ready to play." So during the offseason, he
spent hours in the gym, working to gain strength and stamina. The following
season his contribution imrpoved, and he averaged 18 points and six rebounds
per game for the season. BYU won 22 of 33 games that year.
This year, his performance has improved again. BYU is 11-4 so far, and
Wesley has been named the Mountain West Conference player of the week twice
already. He is averaging 16 points and six rebounds per game. Coach
Cleveland says the pressures on Wesley have molded him into a much better
person, and a better player. "They've helped him grow. The way I see it,
it's not where you start in life, it's where you finish. Nobody's made and
accomplished more goals here than Mekeli. He's had his hard times. . . .
School is hard for him. He's a good husband and a good father. There's no
arrogance to him. He's not perfect, but he's dealt with pressure and
scrutiny. That's why I respect him so much."
Wesley's Long Road To Maturity
Salt Lake Tribune 9Jan01 S2
By Gordon Monson: Salt Lake Tribune