The Other Wes Moore: Characters You Should Know

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Who are The Other Wes Moore characters? How did one Wes Moore end up a decorated military veteran and academic scholar and the other a convicted murder with a life sentence?

Each of The Other Wes Moore characters plays an important role in the boys’ lives. This book questions the influence of family and friends in young men’s lives and the possible steps to be taken to ensure success.

Read more about The Other Wes Moore characters and how they influenced the boys’ futures.

The Other Wes Moore Characters

The Other Wes Moore chronicles the lives of two men with the same name. The Other Wes Moore characters are some of the family and friends that helped define who each boy would grow up to become.

People Around Wes the Author

These are some of the major influences in the author Wes Moore’s life.

Author Wes Moore

Author Wes Moore’s full name is Westley Watende Moore. His father chose Watende, a word derived from the Shona tribe in Zimbabwe that meant “revenge will not be sought.” Author Wes Moore was born in Baltimore City and later moved to the Bronx. He was the first black Johns Hopkins student to receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

Joy Moore

Joy Moore is Author Wes Moore’s mother. Joy did her best to provide Moore with every opportunity to improve his life and get on the path to success. She enrolled him in a predominantly white private school north of the burrough and set strict rules for his social activities. She also she created a foundation to help train paramedics to save others afflicted with the virus that killed her husband.

Westley Moore

Westley Moore was Moore’s father. Westley was a slender man, standing six foot two with a large mustache and manicured afro. He was often the voice of reason in the house. Westley passed away suddenly when Moore was three from acute epiglottis.

Nikki Moore

Nikki is author Wes Moore’s older half-sister from Joy’s previous marriage. Today Nikki lives in Virginia and owns an event-planning company.

Moore’s Grandparents

Joy’s parents were regular fixtures in Moore’s life and spoiled their grandchildren. His grandfather was a retired minister and grandmother a retired schoolteacher. They’d always intended to return to Jamaica after retirement, but that plan was abandoned when they saw how much Joy needed them. 


Shea was Moore’s childhood friend from the Bronx. He worked as a “runner,” a low-level position within the drug hierarchy that transported packages from place to place for the dealers. Shea was eventually charged with “possession with the intent to sell” and likely ended up behind bars.


Another one of Moore’s childhood friends. Justin was one of the few black student at Riverdale, a model student, and lived close to Moore’s neighborhood. The two hung out together almost daily.

Cadet Captain Ty Hill

Captain Hill is one of The Other Wes Moore characters who influenced Moore him the most. He met Captain Hill at military school. Moore describes Captain Hill as a tall and muscular black man who commands respect wherever he goes. Moore couldn’t help but be impressed by Captain Hill because he earned respect through meritorious actions and not through intimidation.

The Other Wes Moore Characters

Author Wes Moore learned about the other Wes Moore when he saw the news about another black man from Baltimore City who shared the same name and was arrested for his part in the robbery of a jewelry store and ensuing murder of the store’s security guard.

He wrote a letter to the other Wes Moore in prison, beginning a correspondence and eventual face-to-face relationship with the inmate. These are the characters from the Other Wes Moore’s life.

The Other Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore also grew up in Baltimore. He grew up with an absentee father and idolized his older brother Tony, who was a drug dealer. He lacked guidance and emotional support and had a quick temper that was not addressed. His decision-making skills were poor, leading to a number of ill-advised behaviors that eventually landed him in prison.

Tony Moore

Tony was The Other Wes Moore’s older half-brother. By age ten, Tony was already involved in drug deals. Tony did his best to keep Wes from falling into the gang life he was wrapped up in, but Wes never heeded Tony’s advice. In 2008, Tony developed kidney failure and died in prison at the age of thirty-eight.

Mary Moore

Mary is The Other Wes Moore’s mother. She raised Wes and Tony on her own, attending college part-time to fulfill her dream of earning a college degree. But federal funding supporting Mary’s tuition was canceled, and she went to work full-time. 


Bernard is The Other Wes Moore’s biological father. Bernard hadn’t graduated from high school and didn’t have a stable employment. He was a heavy drinker and abusive. By the time Wes was born, he was already out of Mary’s life. 


After moving to Northwood, The Other Wes Moore met Woody, a boy he would be friends with for the rest of his life. Woody was from a home with two parents who both worked. His father was a Vietnam veteran and former sergeant in the Army. Wes loved going to Woody’s house not only for the father’s war stories, but also to experience a world that included a father. 

Alma and Kenneth

Mary’s parents and The Other Wes Moore’s grandparents. Alma died of kidney failure when Tony was young.

All of The Other Wes Moore characters had an important role to play. Both Wes Moores had people in their lives who served as mentors or advisors, and those people played significant roles in how their futures turned out.

Were there people in your life you looked up to as mentors or advisors? How did they influence your life?

The Other Wes Moore: Characters You Should Know

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Wes Moore's "The Other Wes Moore" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full The Other Wes Moore summary :

  • How two men from similar communities can have vastly different lives
  • What led one Wes Moore to become a Rhodes Scholar
  • What led the other Wes Moore to a life sentence

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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