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Skyline teen mom athlete plays for her infant son
Prep sports » Skyline’s Ta’a Tuinei balances basketball and motherhood.


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Most nights, Ta’a stays home. She used to go out often.

That all changed with Tereinga’s arrival, but she insists she doesn’t miss it, even passing up chances to get out of the house to stay with her child.

At a glance

Skyline’s season ends

Skyline’s quest to get to the girls 4A basketball championship game ended Friday with a 55-49 semifinal loss to Timpanogos at Salt Lake Community College. Miquelle Askew led Timpanogos with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Skyline’s Ta’a Tuinei, who scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help lead the Eagles past Maple Mountain to get the semifinals, was held to 2 points and 5 rebounds by the Timberwolves.

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"It’s good to see her know she has one priority now, and that’s him," Paloma says. "She’s matured a lot."

She is finally back on a full-time school schedule after a stint in the Young Parent Program in West Valley City.

Between school and her motherly responsibilities, she squeezes in basketball. She’s one of Skyline’s top players, a lanky 5-foot-10 athlete with speed and hustle.

She’s not the tallest player on the court - that’s usually her 6-3 teammate Miquelle Askew - but she always seems to be the first to a rebound.

She’s not the fastest, but she’s always the first to dive out of bounds for a loose ball or first to the basket on a fast break.

Ta’a loves basketball. The demands of motherhood wear her out, but she comes alive on the court.

She’s passionate about the game; a loss can darken her day, but a win can bring her to a place where life seems easier and less weighty.

Only a few months ago, she was preparing to give it up.


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Reality sits in

Last spring, things happened that Ta’a explained away. She figured spells of fatigue were tied to a bout with pneumonia.

A little offseason weight gain didn’t initially concern her. It wasn’t until she was getting ready for bed one June evening that she felt something she couldn’t rationalize: a kick. Inside her.

"I never even took a test," she says. "At first I thought I was just twitching or something, but then it was hard enough that I knew it wasn’t just my stomach growling."

For nine days, she told no one.

During that time, she joined Skyline at a team basketball camp in St. George, and she played a lot. Despite her efforts, her teammates became suspicious of Ta’a’s fatigue and changing body.

"It was a really rigorous tournament," coach Deb Bennett says. "By the end of it, I think the whole team was starting to guess."

She was pregnant.

Even after the camp, Ta’a was slow to spread the news, though she eventually told her stepsisters, then her father and stepmother, with whom she lived at the time.

Paloma was the last to know, and the revelation temporarily shattered her image of her daughter. She always envisioned Ta’a as a college student, perhaps even scholarship student, given her basketball skills.

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