Jaylen Brown wants to make it ‘cool’ for people to give back to their communities

"The cars. The lifestyle. The women. All that type of stuff is cool, but also taking care of your family, speaking on your community, helping your community, using your voice. I want that to be cool, too."

Jaylen Brown of the Celtics warms up in a VOTE shirt prior to a game against the Miami Heat.
Jaylen Brown of the Celtics warms up in a VOTE shirt prior to a game against the Miami Heat. –Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jaylen Brown hopes that he can help redefine what’s considered cool and reshape common trends in society.

“The cars. The lifestyle. The women. All that type of stuff is cool, but also taking care of your family, speaking on your community, helping your community, using your voice. I want that to be cool, too,” Brown told The Boston Globe‘s Gary Washburn. “Not just who you are dating on Instagram, not what kind of car you’ve got or house you’ve got. It also should be cool that you helped your community, that you started a community store in your neighborhood. Those should be flexes, rather than the jewelry or the stuff that’s the norm for NBA players.”

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Brown told Washburn he always tries to think of the people watching from his community whenever he’s in front of a camera or making a public appearance. He’s young, he makes mistakes, and he’s human, he told Washburn, but he tries to carry himself with the mindset that he’s influencing those who are invested in his life.

The Celtics star was one of five players to earn the NBA Cares Community Assist Award, and he was extremely active off the court in voicing his opinion on social issues while in the NBA bubble. Brown, who turns 24 on Oct. 24, used his platform to speak on the Breonna Taylor case, urge young people to vote, call for the reassessment of the term “police brutality,” and implore players to give back to their communities when they returned home.

While Brown is widely regarded as a new-age leader, he doesn’t view his status or prestige as particularly special, according to Washburn.

“I guess [being in the spotlight] doesn’t mean as much to me as people would think,” Brown said. “I think that needs to be normalized. I think that needs to be a redefinition of what a modern athlete is. Yes, we’re here to play basketball and entertain, but at the same time there’s a lot of influence and responsibility that comes with it, to be honest, especially in American sports.”

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Brown said the goals of leading those around him and bringing about positive change push him every day. His biggest priority, according to Washburn, is positively shaping his communities in both Georgia and Boston.

He said he hopes players feel more comfortable expressing themselves and using their clout to affect a wide audience. Brown doesn’t think of himself as a politician or a civil rights leader, but he does believe he has a chance to enhance voices that sometimes get lost.

“I just really want to enlarge those voices,” Brown said, “But it’s less so about me. It’s about the cause and the things we are fighting for.”

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