Patriots

Patriots’ Jalen Mills shares story of growing up in same town as Celtics’ Marcus Smart

Turns out green hair isn't the only thing that connects Patriots cornerback Jalen Mills and Celtics star guard Marcus Smart.

Jalen Mills Patriots
New England Patriots cornerback Jalen Mills. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Anyone familiar with Patriots cornerback Jalen Mills knows about the “Green Goblin” persona he carried over from his time with the Philadelphia Eagles. Even as he spoke to reporters on Thursday for the first time this offseason — a few weeks before OTAs are set to begin — his signature green dreadlocks were on display.

He’s not the only Boston athlete rocking that look at the moment, though. Celtics point guard Marcus Smart has also been dying his hair green throughout the 2022 NBA Playoffs, in which he and his squad are battling with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.

So naturally, Mills was asked what he thought about Smart copying the cornerback’s signature look. As it turns out, sporting green hair isn’t the only thing that connects the two native Texans.

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“You know what’s crazy? I actually went to school with Marcus Smart in Dallas in like fifth and sixth grade,” Mills revealed to reporters.

So, what did he think of the future Celtics mainstay?

“Everybody knew back then that he was going to be a pro in basketball because he was dunking back then. He ended up transferring. So we’re actually both from the same part of town back at home.”

Mills ended up attending two different high schools in Dallas County before going to LSU as a three-star defensive back recruit and heading to the NFL in the 2016 draft.

Smart, on the other hand, went to high school outside of Dallas and become one of the top-ranked basketball players in the country, eventually starring at Oklahoma State University for two seasons before the Celtics drafted him sixth overall in 2014.

All those years later, their paths have converged again in Boston as Mills plays for the Patriots and Smart continues his solid career with the Celtics. Mills, for his part, is still pulling for his old middle schoolmate.

“I’ve got to go with the home team right now,” Mills said when asked about who he’s rooting for in the NBA Playoffs this year — that home team, of course, being the Celtics. “I know they’re playing good team ball. Everyone’s doing their job.”

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Perhaps the green-haired Smart and his teammates will have better luck in their elimination game Friday night than they did at the end of their heartbreaking Game 5 loss.

As for Mills, he’ll be getting ready to build on a first season with the Patriots that struck many as a pleasant surprise as he filled in admirably at outside cornerback.

“Definitely feel more comfortable,” he said about coming into Year 2 with New England. “From now to last year…my mind isn’t wandering and asking 100 questions. Now, I’m asking 50 questions instead of 100 this year. But definitely more confident within the scheme for sure.”

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