addByline("Marc D'Amico", "Celtics.com", "Marc_DAmico");
BOSTON – The NBA announced today that Jaylen Brown has been named one of five recipients of the End of Season NBA Cares Community Assist Award for the 2019-20 season.
Joining him in receiving this season's award is Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings, George Hill of the Milwaukee Bucks, Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks.
Brown became the second member of the Boston Celtics organization to win the award, joining Isaiah Thomas, who earned it in 2017.
Brown, who serves as a vice president for the NBA Players Association, has maintained a loud and impactful voice throughout the NBA’s return-to-play process amid both the ongoing pandemic and the pursuit of social justice and racial equality in the United States. The 23-year-old Celtics wing has donated both his time and his money toward the causes over the last six months.
While progress has been made on each front during that time frame, Brown maintained in his comments Monday upon receiving the award, “There is so much more work to be done.”
That being said, Brown has put in quite a bit of work himself to nudge society in the right direction. Most notably, in late-May, he jumped in a car and drove 15 hours to his native Atlanta following the police killing of George Floyd. Brown organized a peaceful protest that was held May 30, at which he was joined by the likes of fellow NBA players Malcolm Brogdon and Justin Anderson, as well as rapper and fellow Georgia native Lil Yachty.
Brown marched with a sign that read “I CANT BREATHE,” [sic] and continued to relay the purpose behind his protest throughout his time inside the NBA’s bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
“As a young person, you’ve got to listen to our perspective,” Brown said at the time of his initial protest. “Our voices need to be heard. I’m 23 years old. I don’t know all the answers. But I feel how everybody else is feeling.”
Those emotions were and are centered around Brown's frustration with the lack of equal rights and systemic accountability within the United States. He continued to publicly speak on those topics during his practice and postgame media availabilities, not only during the conclusion of the regular season, but also through the end of Boston’s playoff run, which extended into the Eastern Conference Finals.
“I think that this society, the way it was built, its intentions was to never protect and serve people of color initially,” Brown said Sept. 23, following Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, which coincided with the public rulings that none of the police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death would be directly charged with her death. “So when they were gearing up for what was about to happen, I knew that the wrong decision was probably being made.”
Brown added, “Until we dismantle, recreate or change this system that we have, it’s going to continue to have victims like Breonna Taylor and others that fall victim to oppression.”
While messages of this tone have reverberated off the walls from Brown for months, he has also dedicated his efforts toward the cause of helping others during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Many lives have been lost, and many more have been negatively impacted from physical, emotional and financial perspectives during the fight against this pandemic. Brown, who signed a lucrative contract extension prior to the 2019-20 season, wanted to assist that group of impacted individuals via a contribution to the Boston Resiliency Fund, which is an effort led by the city of Boston to assist residents most affected by the pandemic.
Brown’s contribution to the Fund led directly to meals for senior citizens and families most in need, new technology for students as they transitioned to remote learning, as well as continued support for first responders.
Brown chose to make the donation via his 7uice Foundation. Quenton Brown, Jaylen’s older brother, serves as a director of the foundation and spoke to Celtics.com about the reasoning behind the decision to contribute to the Resiliency Fund.
“Just basically being able to provide an educational or athletic or social impact that can bring people closer to, I guess, the golden rule: treat people how they want to be treated,” he explained. “Or be able to get the resources that they need, or be properly educated, so that they can know their rights or regulations for whatever the case may be. Knowing just to control your own narrative has kind of been the whole point of Jaylen’s career.”
Quenton also elaborated on why Jaylen opted to make the contribution via his foundation, as opposed to doing so through his own name.
“He wants the foundation to have the leverage,” Quenton said. “It’s not about our faces on anything that we’re able to do to help and give back. It’s about the brand, and the brand is faith, consistency and hard work pays off. So the more that you put the brand out there, the more you’re spreading a different word than just putting your name out there, which is basically just giving you a social shout out when we need social justice, we need social education, we need things spread with the right positive intellect.”
Jaylen and his foundation have clearly accomplished those goals throughout the last several months. His words and actions have generated traction throughout the country and inspired countless others to follow suit.
Brown may have received an individual award from the NBA, but the award stands for so much more. It stands for making a difference in the world, which Brown will continue to do well beyond his playing days, according to many who know him best.
“Jaylen’s greatest impact, as good as he is in basketball, won’t be in basketball,” Brad Stevens said June 2, a message he relayed many times before and after that date. “He’s a special guy. A special leader. He’s smart but he has courage. He’s got a lot of great stuff to him.”
Simply put, Brown makes the world a better place. Now he has earned a coveted NBA award to show for it.