Ski-U-Mah Life is a weekly feature from GopherSports.com that highlights some of the more than 700 Minnesota student-athletes outside of their athletic accomplishments. This week, sophomores Taiye Bello and Kehinde Bello are spotlighted.
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They sometimes will finish each other’s sentences, but ask them a question and you’ll often get wildly different answers.
Taiye and Kehinde Bello are twin sisters who happen to play the same position for the same team. When it comes down to talking to the two Gopher women’s basketball sophomores, though, their unique personalities come through quickly.
Taiye is majoring in computer science. So is Kehinde, but she’s thinking about switching to sustainable studies. Both haven’t shied away from the grueling math and science coursework, but Kehinde tends to be more of the right-brain, creative side.
“I am more artistic,” she explained. “I think when I was younger I did a lot of poems and stuff like that. I’m more chill.”
“She goes with the flow a lot more compared to me,” Taiye said. “She is so much more disorganized compared to me. She’s more chaotic. Not in a bad way.”
Does it become a problem?
“Kind of. Especially when we were younger,” said Taiye. “I’d like things a certain way - she’d say, ‘Oh, whatever!’ and I’m like, ‘um, no.’”
On the basketball court, they can sometimes be mistaken for each other. Although they are classified as fraternal twins, they are both 6-2 forwards who have similar skill sets. It wasn’t always that way.
“I was taller than her for a long time,” Taiye said. “Sophomore year of high school she caught up to me. I was low key kind of mad. I was really mad. It took me awhile to get over it.”
When they were going through the recruiting process, though, there wasn’t an implied package deal for their college choice.
“I mean we basically knew in the back of our minds that we wanted to go to school together but it wasn’t like if she liked a school and I didn’t, that I would just go with her,” Taiye explained. “It just so happened that we both liked this school. It was nice to come together.”
They arrived on campus and settled in as roommates in the freshman dorm. Going into their second year, though, they decided to seek a little separation.
“Even when we were younger, we stayed in the same room so I was like, I see enough of you,” Kehinde said.
What about their personalities?
“I would say I am kind of quiet but if I am comfortable around those people then I open up,” Taiye said. “Obviously when I am with my teammates I am different… I am interacting and outgoing if it’s someone I know.”
“That’s me too - I think that’s one thing we have in common is the way we act in front of new people,” Kehinde said. “Kind of shy, but once you get to know us we are kind of loud.”
As teammates and sisters, they spend plenty of time together, but it’s usually unplanned.
“Yeah we hang out with each other. It just happens,” Taiye explained.
“It’s not like ‘Oh Taiye do you wanna hang out?” Kehinde added.
On the court, they have healthy sibling competition.
“I don’t really know if there are challenges,” Taiye said. “Maybe that people compare you especially because you are at the same position, but we kind of have the same strengths and weaknesses so it’s comparing an apple to an apple.”
“I think we definitely compete a lot, Whenever I am on defense my number-one goal is to block her shot,” said Taiye. “That’s hers too. You just try to make it fun.”
“It’s also fun, especially when working out in the offseason and back home, it is nice to have someone and not just work out by yourself,” Kehinde added. “There is always someone to push you and correct you on the mistakes. So that is cool. “
They were asked who the better shooter was.
“Me,” Taiye answered. “Kehinde, come on now.”
“OK, I’ll give you that one,” she answered.
What about rebounding? Shot blocking? Their answers were mixed.
The twins’ love of basketball didn’t originate with each other though. Instead, it came from their older brother, Seni Lawal, who has played professionally overseas and for the Nigerian national team since graduating from Wayne State in 2009.
“He is probably the main reason we played basketball and the main reason we are who we are today in terms of us being basketball players,” Taiye explained. “We started playing seriously in eighth grade; that was when we started playing AAU. I remember that summer we were in the gym every day because we started late… we were trying to play catchup. He would take us to the gym every day, to the track. Things like that.”
They admit they are each other’s biggest supporters when it comes to basketball and school. And even though they’re in just their second year at the U, they’ve already started to think about their future after Gopher basketball.
And in what should come as no surprise, they have different answers. Taiye wants to leave the Midwest, maybe move to the East Coast or the South. Kehinde wants to travel and explore across the world.
“Sounds tiring,” Taiye quickly quipped. “I feel like playing basketball you travel so much – AAU, in college, after like the third away game you’re just packing, unpacking.”
No matter where their paths take them, the twins will always be connected but unique on their own.
“I think people think that twins are one person,” Taiye explained. “I don’t know why. It is good to make sure that you know we are two different people. You have to get to know us individually.”
Dan Reisig is an associate director of athletic communications at the University of Minnesota, and a contributing writer to GopherSports.com and Ski-U-Mah Magazine.
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