You moms are going to love Landry Shamet, if you don’t already.
Because he loves his mom. The Wichita State freshman guard loves her the way every mother wants to be loved by her son.
Everything he does, he does for his mom, Melanie Shamet, who raised him in Kansas City, Mo. She marvels today at the young man Landry has become.
“We’re very, very tight,” Landry Shamet said of his mother. “You know, it’s just been her and I — she’s a single mom, and I’m an only child. She’s all I’ve got, and I’m all she’s got. We stick together.”
Shamet has never met his biological father.
He was raised by a woman who was 24 when he was born and put aside some of her hopes and dreams to help Landry realize his.
Melanie worked long hours at Harrah’s North Kansas City Hotel and Casino, moving up from a clerk at the front desk to a supervisor. She wasn’t always home as much as she wanted to be, but there was no other choice. Money wasn’t going to fall off the tree in the front yard.
“I knew going in that being a true single mother was going to be difficult,” Melanie Shamet said. “I just took it for what it was worth and did the best job I could.”
Landry was a model student, a polite kid and one who never caused Melanie many problems. At least not like she caused for her parents.
“My mom would always joke with me that the payback was going to be rough,” she said. “I was ornery as a kid, really ornery, and I felt bad for my parents that I put them through so much grief.
“But it never happened with Landry. Even through the terrible twos or whatever, I don’t remember a hard time with him.”
Landry Shamet was interested in sports, Melanie said, from the time he was able to walk. Makes sense since she was a volleyball and softball standout at Park Hill, Mo., where Landry also went to high school.
Melanie went to Boise State on a volleyball scholarship, full of the rebellion of youth, and lasted only three semesters.
Landry gave Melanie a sense of purpose, someone to be the best she could be for.
“We weren’t always super well-off financially,” Landry said. “We weren’t living in poverty or anything like that, but my mom lived paycheck to paycheck and working extra shifts to make ends meet.
“I realized pretty early that she was working so hard to put food on the table and pay bills and stuff like that, and I wanted to help her as much as I could.”
Landry’s goal, of course, is to make it to the highest level of professional basketball, to the NBA. But it’s a goal that has as much to do with his desire to help his mom as it does to make a name for himself.
“Landry’s mother is a winner, a real winner,” said Darin Mason, Landry’s AAU coach with the Pumas in Kansas City. “She’s a really, really competitive person, too, and just a tough-minded woman who was never going to surrender, never going to give up.”
Landry was interested in football and baseball and was an outstanding pitcher and shortstop. But his passion was basketball, which he began showing an interest in at 3 or 4, Melanie said.
“My brother was playing basketball at Park Hill and Landry had a little backpack with a slot for a small basketball,” she said. “At halftime, Landry and a friend of his would go out on the floor and dribble and every once in a while I’d get out there and make a hoop with my arms.”
By the time Landry was getting ready to enter high school, he was a standout on the AAU circuit.
“He just had that ‘it’ factor,” said Mason, his AAU coach. “He just had it. He was one of those kids who absorbed information, applied it and sought out more information.”
Shamet’s cerebral nature made him a natural to play point guard, Mason said, although he was just as good at shooting guard.
Shocker fans are seeing that lethal combination of intelligence and ability first-hand now. Shamet averages 11.1 points, shoots well from the field and the three-point line, leads the Shockers in assists and is a standout perimeter defender at 6-foot-4.
He’s been playing at an extremely high level of late, teaming with junior Conner Frankamp to give the Shockers one of the best guard combos they’ve had.
“Whatever you need Landry to do, he’s going to do it well,” Mason said.
Melanie Shamet worked to improve her job resume with the intent of following Landry to wherever he chose to attend college. He was recruited by Illinois, Colorado, Kansas State and Wichita State and ultimately chose the Shockers. He’ll play in his first NCAA Tournament game Friday against Dayton.
“The winning environment here was second to none,” Landry said of WSU. “I really wanted to get a chance to play with Fred (VanVleet) and Ron (Baker). And I really liked Coach (Greg) Heiar and his guard development.
“And, of course, Coach (Gregg) Marshall is a great coach. With everything combined, this was the best option for me.”
And Melanie didn’t have to move. She’s been to most of the games and still isn’t quite sure she believes what she’s seeing from her son.
“It’s so surreal, it really is,” she said. “I have to remind myself, ‘Wow, that’s my son.’
“I just enjoy the fact that he’s doing well, performing well. He’s happy.”
Shamet strives to make his mom happy, too. They talk every day, about everything.
“She’s one of my best friends, my mom, and she’s an inspiration to me,” he said. “We have a unique relationship.”
The communication doesn’t happen by accident. Melanie said she set out to make it a way of life for mother and son.
“I didn’t want to shelter him about anything in life,” she said. “I wanted him to feel comfortable coming to me and being able to talk about anything. Not a day would go by when I didn’t tell him I loved him and that’s true to this day.”
They have leaned on one another.
“She’s gone through a lot for me,” Landry Shamet said. “I have the utmost respect for single moms everywhere.”