Jaylen’s Brown’s rookie season served as an educational period, not just on the court, but off the court as well.
The 20-year-old forward learned valuable life lessons from his Celtics teammates, including one from Isaiah Thomas, which Brown carried with him this week to South Africa where he participated in Basketball without Borders.
“Isaiah says, ‘If, when I die, I’m just known as a good basketball player, then I didn’t do my job. I’ve failed as a human being,’ ” Brown said Thursday afternoon during a conference call with the media. “That’s one of the things that he says a lot, and I think he lives by that. And I kind of hold myself to the same standard. If you just remember me for being a good basketball player, I didn’t do enough while I was here.”
Brown has already established himself as a good basketball player, so now he’s using his platform to impact others. The Celtics sophomore, along with a number of other NBA players, has spent this week teaching basketball lessons and life lessons to children in Johannesburg. So far, Brown says the experience has been enlightening.
“This is what keeps me going – just using the game to influence not only my community, but to spread light on a lot of different things that athletes have a voice to do,” said Brown, who will also participate in an exhibition game Saturday in South Africa’s largest city. “Just being here and seeing a different perspective of things kind of changes your perspective as you look back home and see what’s going on there. People are a lot more deprived and a lot more poor here than they are in America, but they don’t seem to be bothered by it or complain about it.”
Spending time with Brown has likely been a life-changing experience for many of the local children, but little do they know how much they have impacted him as well. He says that he couldn’t stop smiling earlier this week when he got off the plane with his mother, and that grin has not faded since stepping foot on African soil.
“What’s crazy is that we’re here to help [the kids], but ironically they’ve helped me a lot, just how they approach their opportunity no matter what,” said Brown. “They just come out super excited, super locked in and they come with a high level of energy and eagerness to get better and learn the game.
“I have that same drive in me, but they have it to a whole other level and it just gave me a whole other appreciation for the game and a whole other appreciation for the talent level because some of these kids are really talented, but with less opportunities. The game of basketball presents so much and it’s so universal that it touches every corner (of the world). And now they have an opportunity to show their game and show who they are through the game.”
Brown has been able to do just that this week as he has displayed his true colors by using his platform as a professional athlete to influence and benefit others around him.