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Wesley Matthews opens up about strained relationship with NBA-playing father

Jan 15, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT

Wesley Matthews, Eric Gordon

Wes Matthews was one of the best basketball players in University of Wisconsin history.

In 1978-79, he was MVP of a team that won more games than any of the four previous seasons. He scored 18.1 points per game in his career, third-best in program history. His college success led him to be drafted No. 14 overall in 1980, and he spent nine seasons in the NBA, winning two championships with the Lakers.

As he played in the pros, Wes fathered a son who grew up in Madison: Wesley Mathews.

Wesley went on to play at Marquette and now starts at shooting guard for the Portland Trail Blazers. He recently opened up about his relationship with his father.

Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest:

Shortly after, according to the Trail Blazer guard, Matthews Sr. “took off,” leaving the child before he ever knew his father, in a place where everybody else did.

“I’m living in probably his second-most popular city that he’s lived in other than Bridgeport,” he said. “I mean, he’s the man in Wisconsin. I’m carrying his name and I knew nothing about him other than that everybody else around me loved him. And I’m having the toughest time trying to figure out why the hell he’s not around.”

Matthews has been dubbed the “Iron Man” for his willingness to play through multiple injuries with reckless abandon. The moniker is fitting. However, the rigid iron settled in long before his basketball days.

“I don’t know if I’ll fully know the extent of my upbringing until I have a kid,” he admitted. “I know it hardened me. It made me tougher. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. But I know I’ll find out down the road.”

I hope Matthews gets whatever he wanted by sharing his story – whether that’s peace of mind, to be a role model for others in similar situations or anything else.

I also hope two repair their relationship, and that appears to be headed on the right track. Haynes:

Matthews says his dad made the step of trying to enter his life when he was a senior in high school. A hardened Matthews was reluctant and hesitant to embrace him, and much of that remains today.

Matthews Sr. continues to make a concerted effort to be a part of his son’s life. He’ll show up at road games and keeps in touch through text messages.

Do you ever think things will ever be repaired?

“Yeah, we will,” Matthews said. “I can probably do a little bit more. He can probably do a little bit more. I think it’ll happen over time.”

  1. timberwolvesbrisin - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    Would his dad be intrested in his son if he wasnt in the NBA?

    • cg2424 - Jan 15, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      “Matthews says his dad made the step of trying to enter his life when he was a senior in high school.”

      Evidence says yes.

      • joshm5683 - Jan 15, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        He played locally here at Madison Memorial. He was really really good on that team, so I’d kinda question what the relationship would be if he wasn’t a star on that team…….but whatever, I hope they patch things up.

      • pbtunpaidwriter - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        In *high school*, when his father knew he had a chance of being really good…

        Evidence isn’t that strong…

  2. moseskkim - Jan 15, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    undrafted, had many scars from father.. certainly help make him into a great man. always has had a chip on his shoulders. i love his tenacity, willingness to play through whatever ailment, willingness to guard the other teams best player, take big/clutch shots. best of luck to you wes and i know youll be a great dad one day

  3. azarkhan - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    Currently 40.7% of American children are born out of wedlock, and the number is increasing. Since it’s usually a quick ticket to poverty for both mother and child, it’s obviously a massive problem and one that will only get worse.

  4. titansbro - Jan 15, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    He doesn’t deserve to be in the kids life honestly. But it’s up to the kid I suppose. But you have to be a terribly selfish person deep down to abandon your own kid. I have a son & I’d travel to the ends of the earth & give up any personal dream if necessary just to be near him. I’m a sap though I guess.

    • shen90 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      My grandfather scarred my dad pretty good. My grandfather flat out told my grandmother when my dad was a kid that he wanted nothing to do with him while he was a kid. Said when he grows up and is an adult and they can do adult things he will be their but he just did not have the patience to deal with the immaturity of children or the activity’s children do. My father has spent his entire life trying to impress his dad as a result and to this day he still get’s crushed when his dad makes little of something. My father has had his own issues with parenthood as a result.

  5. stayhigh_247 - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:52 AM

    I don’t care who you are, you need a dad. Don’t let pride interfere with family. Now if dad is an ass, I understand. I can’t respect men that have kids and don’t raise them or try to be in their lives, no excuse for that.

  6. jpope102 - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    I know Wes has a good heart and is a good person. He shouldn’t be penalized the rest of his life for mistakes in the past. I hope they repair what’s been done and be father and son.

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