‘We all kinda raised ourselves…’
Being far from his Alaska home, Mo Bullock knows family is the most important thing.
By Joe Hiti | Sports reporter
Mo Bullock does not spend his nights thinking about his family in prison. He doesn’t think about his life home in Alaska. Mo sits inside the security booth at the main entrance to Bethel University. He is on his third can of Red Bull. It is three o’clock in the morning. He’s deciding whether to read his book Major Problems in the History of the American West, for the class he has in just five hours, or to watch his fifth episode of Friends for the night. This is an average week night for Bullock. And he loves it.
You may recognize him from him taking a once over at your student ID as he lets you on to campus past midnight. But you probably do not know his past.
Bullock was born into a family, the youngest of three brothers. His father, who is now serving time in prison, a brother, who is also serving time in prison, another brother who is serving in the United States Air Force, and a mother who put them into foster care because she could not care of them.
“My brothers raised me. But we all kinda raised ourselves, too.”
At the age of three his older brothers would take him to stores to steal food so that they could eat. “They would have me go into the stores and take things because I was so young. But that’s how we would get food.” Bullock said about his early years.
His birth father would later end up in prison and Bullock would find himself being put into foster care after when his birth mother could not take care of him or his siblings anymore.
Over the next five years bullock was in 15 different foster homes, “it was the first time I had real supervision in my life and I didn’t like it.”
However the supervision was not the best. Homes were dirty. They were covered in spider webs. Doors had locks because the families thought he might steal. Dirt traipsed on the carpet as if a race car had driven through the house. And dust so thick on dressers it looked like it had hair. This was not his home but for five years he wondered.
“Why does nobody want me.”
Geoff met Bullock in a McDonalds, “he was a cocky little nine year old.”
“What a punk. He had been through a ton of foster homes and he kinda felt that he was in control,” said Geoff Bullock, who adopted Bullock.
He was set to move in with his new family on his ninth birthday and little did he know he was gonna be sharing it with his two new sisters.
“He was known for being a liar so when he told us it was his birthday we were thinking ‘yeah right,’” Geoff said.
He was accepted into the Bullock family with open arms and with that came Jesus. Geoff, his adopted father, was a strong Christian and played a key role in his faith formation.
But for Bullock, Christ took the back seat to sports.
“We knew he was a good athlete but I was more concerned with him being a good guy,” Geoff said.
Bullock had been apart of several camps, tournaments, and teams for basketball and it was his drive. “It kept me out of trouble and it kept me focused on school.” He spent summers in Las Vegas playing basketball tournaments and the school year training for the season. Although he did play football and baseball, and was arguably more gifted in baseball according to his dad, he had a passion for basketball.
The change from middle school athletics and AAU teams to varsity sports was not big for him. He was a starting center for his High school basketball team from freshman to senior year, “For so long basketball was who I was. It’s what people recognized me for” Bullock said.
His senior year he averaged 10 points along with 3 assists and 6 rebounds. But he wanted more. During this time in his life he had basketball as his number one priority. Nothing else mattered and the future had to be basketball.
“I don’t think his faith grew until he graduated high school and moved away. That’s when he truly found God,” Geoff said.
By his senior year Bullock was being recruited by a mix of some small D2 schools and some bigger D3 schools. In the MIAC he was in contact with schools such as St. Thomas and Saint Johns.
“I was at my friend’s house and Bethel just popped into my head so I Google searched it and applied,” Bullock said.
The decision had him moving 2,250.2 miles away from home to Arden Hills, Minnesota to attend Bethel University and play basketball.
At Bethel, Bullock felt an instant connection with the coach and players. “Coach Novak emailed me directly saying that I was gonna be in jersey for them that season.” This made his decision even easier.
He spent his freshman season on the bubble for the Royals spending most of his time playing for the jayvee team. But he was ready to make the jump and be apart of the varsity roster.
After tryouts his sophomore year he again did not make the varsity team. But this year was different.
“My relationship with God was stronger. And I didn’t need basketball like I used to anymore.”
Bullock would eventually find himself asking friends, family, and God for guidance on what he should do.
His girlfriend of two years was by his side when he was making his decision.
“He didn’t just make the decision over night” Maddie Reding said “He spent a lot of time thinking about it and talking it over with people”
Shortly before spring semester began his sophomore year Bullock had the idea to play baseball. He reached out to Coach Raabe and let him know that he was interested and a short interaction later and he was sold on joining the team.
“He was straight forward with me” Bullock said, “(Coach Raabe) told me he wanted me to work on getting my arm strength back up and try to get a couple live innings by the end of the season.”
“There’s a sense of family with the team and everyones apart of it,” Bullock said.
Sitting in the Bethel security booth with Friends playing on one of his three monitors he rises out of his chair and opens the window to let in a Bethel student. He checks their ID and waves them through as he lifts the gate. It’s just another night.