Point guard balances school, work, being father of three

Keanna Jenkins

Kaitlyn Kent, fiance of Pullum and 2017 alumn, Devante Pullum, criminal justice senior, Suzanne Shipley, university president, and Kyle Williams, athletic director, pose during the honoring of seniors in between basketball games in D.L. Ligon Coliseum on Feb. 10. Photo by Rachel Johnson

Kids, school, practice, kids, repeat.

Criminal justice senior Devante Pullum takes on daily challenges that include parenting his three children and maintaining a relationship with his fiancee, while being a full-time student and basketball point guard.

In December of 2012, Pullum had his first unplanned child, Aiden, with now fiancee Kaitlyn Kent. The following May in 2013, Pullum also found out that he was expected to have a child with another woman outside of his relationship with Kent. 

Pullum and Kent agreed that they didn’t need to be in a serious, committed relationship to provide for their son.

Pullum said, “We decided co-parenting would be best for our son, instead of forcing a relationship because of him.”

While Pullum did not play his freshman year, Kent raised their son and attended Texas Woman’s University taking mainly online classes.

Pullum said, “We didn’t really get to live the college life. Well, I got to live it more because she allowed me to.”

Kent said she was constantly traveling to Wichita Falls on the weekends to allow Pullum to be active in Aiden’s life.

“I knew [Devante] had school and basketball, but I wanted him and Aiden to have a strong relationship,” Kent said.

Kent and Pullum said they managed to rekindle their previous relationship. 

“We really just had to trust each other,” Kent said.

She said communication played a huge roll in their relationship because without it, the couple probably wouldn’t have lasted.

“We have to communicate that way Devante’s basketball career doesn’t interfere with soccer games, appointments and other activities the kids have,” Kent said.

In January of 2014, Pullum had his second child, Khloe. Pullum had split custody over his daughter following her birth, but due to a conflict with Khloe’s birth mother in 2015, Pullum lost his rights to see Khloe for six months and was forced to sit out his sophomore basketball season.

“I don’t think I was myself that year. I ended up choosing myself in this situation because it was what I had to do. I was completely isolated to my family at this time,” Pullum said. “It honestly changed me as a man.”

According to Pullum, this allowed his relationship with Kent to grow and bring them closer together. This then led to the decision of having his planned third child, Alaina, in April of 2017. 

Pullum now has split custody over Khloe and has her every other weekends and most holidays.

Despite Pullum being busy with academics and athletics, he still manages to provide for his children financially. 

“Our income is strictly school money. It comes from my scholarships and refunds and we used Kaitlyn’s grants she received,” Pullum said.

He does not work and Kent has been in and out of jobs. Since she graduated this past December, Kent will soon be working from home providing another income for their family.

Both Pullum and Kent’s families help and support them as much as they can.

“You need your family a lot of the time. They help me get through stuff I don’t think friends could help you get through. The family support I have is crazy,”  Pullum said. 

Pullum described himself as someone who has always been a “family man” and is persistent on involving himself in his children’s lives.

Khloe, Alaina and Aiden Pullum, Devante Pullum’s Kids, smile at the camera. Photo contributed by Devante Pullum

Nelson Haggerty, men’s head basketball coach, has been Pullum’s coach all five years of his college career and said he knows him more than any other player he’s had.

“I look at him as family,” Haggerty said.

He added that Pullum had great examples growing up and fully believes that Pullum is ready for what is to come.

Haggerty has faith in Pullum’s ability to excel after college.

“He’s more than prepared for the next step in his life,” Haggerty said.

According to Haggerty, being a father has grounded Pullum and strengthened his leadership.

He said Pullum hasn’t let his situations or mistakes define him as a person and leaves everything in the past. Haggerty continued by saying that since Pullum had his first child earlier on than any other of his players had, it made him more mature and grow a little bit quicker than others.

“He has a genuine love for his kids and I’m really proud of him,” Haggerty said.

Haggerty said he couldn’t imagine how Pullum balances his academics and athletics while caring for his three children.

Ola Ayodele, applied arts and sciences junior and forward, said he thinks Pullum is a tremendous leader, despite only knowing him for a year.

“When [Devante] isn’t there at practice due to his kids being sick or whatever the reason may be, everything seems off. He gets the team going and keeps us all focused and connected,” Ayodele said. “Because he puts his kids first, that honestly makes him more of a leader.”

Ayodele said he admires Pullum’s consistency through basketball and caring for his kids.

“It makes you take life more seriously because I don’t think I could do it,” Ayodele said.

Pullum has learned from his mistakes and those mistakes made him much more of a mature player, according to Ayodele.

Dequaan Haggerty, mass communication senior and point guard, described Pullum as a fun-loving guy who has a deep love for his kids.

“He’s everything you’d want to be,” Haggerty said.

Haggerty has known Pullum for the past two years and has grown closer to the Pullum family.

“I look at myself as a brother to Devante and an uncle figure to [Aiden, Khloe, and Alaina],” Haggerty said.

Haggerty said when it comes to Pullum’s personality on the court, Pullum takes the place of a father figure.

“[Devante] hoops for his family and sees the bigger picture. He thinks differently and takes things more seriously,” Haggerty said.

He has high respect for Pullum because he is able to take problems head on.

“Devante isn’t really a guy who gets stressed and even if he is going through something, you’d never know because that’s just who he is as a person. He’s an all-around-tough guy who can hold it together,” Haggerty said.

Pullum and Kent agreed that school and basketball has made him who he is as a father. Pullum admits to being tough on his kids, but only because he wants what is best for them.

“I try to keep a happy medium,” Pullum said.

Though Pullum may talk down to his oldest son after a soccer game, he said he will always pick him back up with positive comments because he wants his kids to be great.

Although Pullum stays busy by playing basketball and being a full-time student, he still manages to connect with each of his children and balance his relationship with Kent.

“Even with basketball, school and anything else that may come in the way, his kids are first and that’s something that I think they will remember and appreciate when they get older,” Kent said.

“In the end, I just want to see my kids grow. I don’t care about anything else and if I can do that, I’ll be fine with life,” Pullum said.