McKelton's Little Secret

Tallahassee, FL - Tameka McKelton dreamed of playing basketball overseas one day. That was going to be her plan once she graduated from Florida A&M. But that all changed in December 2010.

McKelton learned she was pregnant.

Five months after the basketball season ended, McKelton gave birth to her daughter, Auria. The date was August 20, 2011.

Now, she doubles as a student-athlete and a mother.

"It's pretty challenging as far as being able to keep track with everything," she said.

But nobody - her coaches, her friends, her family - knew about her pregnancy until the end of her junior season.

"Roughly, I played about two or three months pregnant," McKelton admitted.

The West Palm Beach native feared she would get kicked off the basketball team. So she hid her secret from everyone except for her boyfriend and one of her teammates.

Senior Forward Qiana Donald played with McKelton since their freshman seasons. McKelton felt like she could trust her.

"That was real tough seeing her going through that and you couldn't say nothing," Donald said. "But, at the end of the day, I just pulled her to the side and said are you okay and just make sure she's all right."

"I basically just gritted my teeth, went to practice every morning even though I was sick, flew on the planes and just played as hard as I could, but carefully, because I knew what was going on inside," McKelton said.

The NCAA handbooks states that a pregnant athlete can still participate in their sport as long as the doctor has cleared them to do so. It reads as follows: "Our athletics department will allow a pregnant student-athlete to continue to participate in a limited manner on the team, including all team-related activities, unless the student-athlete’s physician or other medical caregiver certifies that partial participation is not medically safe."

However, McKelton said she got around it.

"I asked the doctor if it was okay to still be active and the doctor said yes, exercise is always good. But I kind of took it and ran with it," she said.

Doctor A.J. Brickler has worked as an Obstetrician for 30 years. He's dealt with various athletes over this time and said McKelton was clearly putting herself at risk.

"Contact where a potential fall on the abdomen could disrupt the placenta, the afterbirth, and separate it from the wall of the uterus and there could be a sheering effect, almost like a car crash," he said.

But McKelton, who's school's the all-time three point leader, kept playing.

"I fine-tuned my game to where I could help but not have to do all the dirty work,' she said.

FAMU Head Coach LeDawn Gibson said she had been in a similar situation before when she coached at the high school level. One of her athletes had also gotten pregnant. So Gibson knows if she had any knowledge that McKelton was pregnant, she would've benched her.

"Shocked. I had no idea," Gibson said. "I Knew her game had changed a little. I asked her why she didn't tell me and she said she didn't want to quit playing. She didn't want to give up on her team. That meant a lot for me."

McKelton's not alone in taking care of her child. She confesses she's lucky to have her boyfriend, Patrick Franck, help out.

"He keeps the baby when I'm on the road and when he has to go to class he usually takes her with him," she said.

"We have our little moments where it can get tough at times, but we always figure out a way to pull through," Franck said.

There have been many challenges for McKelton along the way, but she has only managed to miss one game her senior year. The biggest result of all is that she will graduate with a Criminal Justice degree this semester.

"The past year has really put life into perspective for me as far as knowing what's important. God, family, school, everything. It's helped me mature," she said.

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  • by Proud of You!!! on Feb 13, 2012 at 12:00 PM
    Ms. McKelton, I am proud of you. I hope others can read tis article and see that getting pregnant si not the end of the road. Unliek what others here may think, you are not bound to be a "welfare case" just because you get pregnant and you do not have to have an abortion or give your child up. Though I look back and wish I would have practiced abstinance, the truth is I did not. I will do all that I can to attempt to teach them abstinance but in the end, if my children have premarital sex and have children before it is acceptable to others for them to, I hope that they will do as you did and take responsibility and be a parent. Not only are you being a parent to your child, you are still in school. Hang in there. The only way to prove some of these people wrong is to show them that you will be someone. Stay strong yourself and raise that child to be a strong woman. You are not bound to be a welfare woman because you had a child in college. You have already risen above what so many thought you would be. Keep rising. Again, I am proud of you.
    • reply
      by Grace on Feb 13, 2012 at 03:29 PM in reply to Proud of You!!!
      Having a child out of wedlock is nothing to be proud of. And since nothing is mentioned about her working, obviously we the tax payers are supporting her and now her baby. People who think this is such a success story don't have much to compare it seems. How about waiting until you're married to someone who also wants a child before you have one? Now THAT is something to be happy about!
  • by Dee on Feb 12, 2012 at 06:52 PM
    Has she not heard of birth control? That is the real issue. Why not wait to have children until you're ready? That's what is really comical about these stories - are these parents so clueless that they don't know what happens when you have unprotected sex?
  • by unknown on Feb 11, 2012 at 06:50 PM
    all of u nasty hateful judgemental people will b going to hell for judging others.....
  • by Carol Location: Crawfordville on Feb 11, 2012 at 08:53 AM
    Children are a gift from God, Psalm 127:3. Keep up the good work Tameka and Patrick. We are praying for you all!
  • by famu girl Location: school on Feb 11, 2012 at 02:37 AM
    Check back in 5 years and see where she is ,,-- out of school ,on wefare,food card, bady daddy not around, another B ,kid or one on the way in section 8 housing ...want tp bet,,just watch what I B telling you ...
    • reply
      by friend on Feb 11, 2012 at 07:15 AM in reply to famu girl
      do you mean famu white girl.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 11, 2012 at 09:33 AM in reply to famu girl
      You forgot to change your name to "big sister."
  • by Anonymous on Feb 10, 2012 at 01:01 PM
    To all those that are so hateful and negative, have you ever considered the fact that readers enjoy a nice news story that isn't based on negativity?
  • by MOE Location: TALLY on Feb 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM
  • by Nolegirl0918 Location: Home on Feb 10, 2012 at 08:53 AM
    Most health insurance plans allow a full time college student to remain on the parents policy until the age of 25. I commend her that she stayed in school & hope that her degree will help her secure a good job.
  • by If this was a white woman on Feb 10, 2012 at 07:32 AM
    She would be called courageous and curteous. Strong willed and determined.
    • reply
      by HMA on Feb 10, 2012 at 09:00 AM in reply to If this was a white woman
      No, she would still be a teenager with an illegitimate child that is most likely supported by the taxpayers. Hopefully this young lady will beat the odds and become a productive member of society. There are thousands, (of all races) in her situation who don't.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 10, 2012 at 11:38 AM in reply to HMA
  • by John Location: Tallahassee on Feb 10, 2012 at 07:31 AM
    I cannot see how anyone can write anything negative about this kid. I see that she risked the child playig ball but still all is well. And as for the boyfriend, kudos to him for being a REAL MAN and sticking with her and the baby thru all of it. We all need to see the GOOD in all this.
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