Celtics Sophomore Jaylen Brown: A Student of the Game, A Scholar in Life & the NBA’s Renaissance Man
Jaylen Brown turns just 21-years-old today; yet the Boston Celtics forward has already amassed an NBA resume that elevates him far above of his sophomore colleagues.
That’s because the 6’7’’, 225-lb UC Berkeley product is not just one of the most gifted athletes in the NBA, he’s also one of the brightest students of the game, a scholar in life and a true role model for those coming up behind him.
As Brown and this young Celtics team (1-2) get ready to square off against the Knicks (0-2) tonight at TD Garden, you can be sure of one thing - Brown won’t be thinking of where to get his first legal drink once the 4th quarter buzzer sounds. That’s because 100% of his focus is on preparation, improving his all-around game and putting in the work to become one of the keys to the future of Boston’s success.
In the first three games of this season, he has already shown significant improvement compared to his rookie year. He averages 17.3 points per game (compared to just6.6 points last season) while shooting a respectable 45% from the field. His off-season conditioning and pre-season play hasn’t gone unnoticed by Celtic brass either. Head coach Brad Stevens is nearly doubling Brown’s minutes on the court - from averaging 18 last season to 35 so far this season.
Known for his incredible athleticism and the high-octane energy he brings to the floor, Brown is comparable to an elite defender such as Tony Allen, an offensive force like Kobe Bryant and an all-around hustle player in the form of Anderson Varejão. His ball handling skills, dunking ability, and fearlessness to take on the league’s best players one-on-one further add to his impact on the court.
In his first NBA start last year, he was matched up against LeBron James, who took notice of the rookie’s performance at the time. “I think he’s a really good talent, and that’s why he was drafted so high,” James said. “He’s a strong kid. You can see he knows how to play the game.” Brown also had 19 points, five rebounds, three steals, and two assists, and made eight of 16 field goal attempts against James in his NBA debut.
He has also never been one to shy away from stepping up to a challenge—or voicing his desire to contribute—which could be the reason Coach Stevens lined him up against Carmelo Anthony in Brown’s first-ever NBA preseason game.
But, there is much more to Brown than his ESPN highlight reels—he is a modern-day Renaissance Man.
When he is not working on his jump shot, you can find him nose deep in his next book, competing in chess competitions, writing his own rap lyrics (check out his “Building Blocks” rap song he wrote to prepare for his match-up against LeBron in last year’s playoffs) or visiting Boston Public School students to talk about the importance of education.
As a Top-5 Blue Chip college recruit, Brown had his pick of schools to attend, ultimately deciding on UC Berkeley for the “academics, weather and location.” (Berkeley ranks among the world’s “elite six” universities along with Harvard, MIT, Stanford,Cambridge and Oxford).
Berkeley head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin had begun recruiting Brown as a freshman when Brown was playing at Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia.
On the court, Brown capped off his stellar high school career by leading his team to victory in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) 6A state championship, making two critical free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining to give his team a 59-58 victory against state rival Pebblebrook. He finished a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line and scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. As a senior, Brown averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds while leading Wheeler to a 30–3 overall record.
While he was all business on the court, Brown was just as earnest in the classroom. According to Wheeler High coach Doug Lipscomb who has known Brown since he was in eighth grade, education has always been instilled in him from an early age.
With his insatiable hunger for learning and inherent competitive nature engrained in him early on by his mother and grandparents, Brown set his sights on the chessboard, learning to play at a young age and asserting how he likes to see the way other people think and how their mind works, a skill he uses on the basketball court. He ended up as captain of his middle school chess team. He was also a member of Habitat for Humanity, a member of Men and Women of Distinction and helped raise money for the school by setting up a recycling program, running car washes and establishing fundraisers for the community.
In Brown’s first semester at UC Berkeley, the freshman courses weren’t enough for him. He approached Derek Van Rheenen, graduate professor and the director of Cal’sAthletic Study Center, and asked if he could take his graduate-level course, Theoretical Foundations to the Cultural Studies of Sport in Education, which is part of a Master’s degree program on Cultural Studies of Sport in Education.
Van Rheenen had never had a freshman — athlete or not — take one of his post-graduate courses. Brown became his first.
Brown also learned Spanish in five months, citing how being bilingual is good for personal growth and for business (he wants to learn three more languages by the age of 25). When he wasn’t at class or on the court, he interned for two months at Base Ventures, a venture capitalist firm that invests in promising technology companies.
Outside academics, Brown was lighting up the basketball court, earning first-teamAll-Pac-12 and being named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2015. According to coach Martin, “Brown can handle the ball, he can shoot the ball, he gets to the rim, he posts up, he plays inside, he plays outside. More than anything, with all that talent, his mental approach is at a high level.” Assuredly, this is the reason why Martin is convinced Brown’s NBA journey is just the beginning. “Now, sports is his stage to do what he needs to do to maintain his voice. I think when it’s all said and done, he’ll impact the world in other ways.”
Celtics GM Danny Ainge thought the same thing in selecting Brown as the Celtics 1st-round pick in the 2016 draft (3rd overall) after Brown announced his entry into the NBA lottery shortly after his Freshman season came to an end.
This brings us to today, Brown’s 21st birthday.
Jaylen Brown is an emerging NBA star, a fearless leader, a tireless workhorse mentally and physically and a humanitarian who wants to use his status to bring about a positive impact in the world.
For all of us who want to do well at our jobs, be better with our studies or simply aspire to be the best we can be, just check out the meaning behind Brown’s social media handle - #FCHWPO.
“Faith, Consistency and Hard Work Pays Off.”
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- If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
- Faith, Consistency and Hard Work Pays Off.
- You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Winners never quit, and quitters never win.