Celtics

5 years ago, Jaylen Brown said his teacher told him she’d look him up in jail. Now, he’s crushing it in the NBA.

“It’s a pretty cool moment to be where I am."

Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown during the second quarter in Game 1 of the Celtics' first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. AP Photo/Winslow Townson

MILWAUKEE — Five years ago, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown tweeted that his teacher told him she would one day look him up in the Cobb County Jail.

Brown — who, at the time, was 17 years old and a junior at Wheeler High School in his hometown of Marietta, Georgia — doesn’t know how the tweet resurfaced Sunday morning, on its five-year anniversary. But it went viral, garnering thousands of retweets and favorites.

So, what exactly happened that day in April 2014?

The 22-year-old didn’t have much interest in rehashing the details before practice Monday morning, less than 24 hours after he tallied 19 points on 57.1 percent shooting in Game 1 of Boston’s second-round playoff series. Brown said he moved past the snide remark “emotionally and spiritually” a long time ago, noting that the school and his family dealt with the incident after it happened.

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“I don’t really want to get into what happened because I want to leave it in the past where it belongs,” he said. “I let it be the past.”

Still, in the words of Brown himself, “when someone says something like that, you never really forget it.” He acknowledged that those types of comments can add fuel to the fire, and perhaps the insulting prediction contributed to the development that’s powered him to achieve all that he has today. After high school graduation, Brown attended the University of California, Berkeley for one year before getting selected third overall in the 2016 NBA Draft.

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In his three years with the Celtics, the swingman has continued to improve each season, while maintaining several pursuits off the court like guitar lessons and chess. He’s spoken at Harvard and MIT, and was recently elected vice president of the league’s players association. 

“It’s a pretty cool moment to be where I am,” Brown said. “Five years ago, who would have thought? Especially where I come from and a lot of people come from.”

Brown’s certainly happy he is where he is now, competing in the playoffs for the third time in as many seasons. In Boston’s three most recent postseason games, he’s been an electric addition to the starting lineup — averaging 18.3 points on 65.6 percent shooting — and even posterized MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo Sunday afternoon. 

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Even though he never ended up spending time behind bars, Brown expressed no desire to “get back” at the teacher. He said he doesn’t even reflect on the incident as “something that’s a negative.”

“In Georgia, the education system isn’t the best, so I don’t really put too much blame on the teacher,” Brown said. “It is what it is. When you have one teacher handling 35 kids in one class, it’s tough. A lot of teachers go through stuff and take a lot of crap out there all day, so who knows what was going through her mind that day when she said that.”

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Brown emphasized he’s not trying to draw more attention to his old tweet, but if additional good can come from it, then he is all for it.

“If kids look at it the right way, in terms of if anybody ever said anything that tried to put them down or shoot their dreams down, and that can motivate them to get them where they are, I salute that,” he said. “Everybody has aspirations and dreams to get to where they belong. I’m happy I’m here, playing basketball with the Celtics.”

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown during a team media availability.