LAWRENCE (KSNT)- Kansas forward Jalen Wilson went from one of the lowest points of his life to one of the highest in just six months.
At the start of KU’s 2021-22 season, Wilson was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. In April, he scored 15 points to boost Kansas to a national championship.
Wilson says the arrest was a low point in his life. He describes the emotions as sad, embarrassing and disappointing.
“NBA teams, they all asked about it and I always said I embrace it,” Wilson said. “I would never change it. I would never take it away.”
Wilson says the big mistake served as a wake up call and helped him become more mature.
“I just understood that it was going to be talked about the rest of the year,” Wilson said. “I just wanted that to be something that happened to me and kind of just boosted me up to achieve something like [a national title] and motivate me to do that, and that’s exactly what it did.”
He’s grateful for the change it produced in his life, and the trust he’s regained from teammates and coaches.
“To have gone through all that and now have guys looking at me and respecting me for doing all that, that’s all I could ask for,” Wilson said.
He’s hoping his story will stop others from making the same mistake.
“For me to be in this position to help the next generation, I’m all for it,” Wilson said. “Next time someone is in a position like that, think back to me. Understand that I made a mistake, but life is full of adversity. You just got to take it head on.”
Accepting and apologizing for the mistake, instead of hiding from it, was a big part of the maturing process for Wilson after the arrest.
“I never once went away from it,” Wilson said. “I always embrace it, that’s who I am. It’s something that happened to me and learn that not everybody is perfect.”
Wilson explored the NBA path this offseason, before announcing his decision to return to KU at the beginning of June. There’s no question now that he’s a leader for the Jayhawks.
“He’s just a vocal leader on the court at all-times,” Kansas incoming freshman Zuby Ejiofor said. “We try to take tips and pointers from him everyday.”