Jaylen Brown Embraces Local Leadership Role: “I’m a Bostonian Now”
Editor's note: this article was first published Dec. 12, 2020, but has been updated to recognize Brown's latest achievement.
BOSTON – Back in December, Jaylen Brown was rewarded for his steadfast activism throughout the grueling 2020 calendar year as he was named one of the Boston Globe’s “Bostonians of the Year.” This past week, he was recognized in a similar fashion by Boston Magazine, which named him one of the 100 Most Influential Bostonians.
The Globe chose six individuals or groups who were “engaged in the fight against COVID-19, or racial injustice, or – as is often the case – both of these deeply interconnected pandemics.” Each individual or group also had a unique title listed underneath their name; for Brown, it was “The Role Model.”
Meanwhile, Boston Magazine chose 100 distinguished figures from the city, including Brown for the “leadership, thoughtfulness, and urgency” that he displayed on both a local and national stage.
Throughout 2020, Brown proved to be one of the leading role models, not just for the NBA, but for the Boston community, his hometown Atlanta community, and the United States community as a whole. He spoke at Harvard University on the topic of educational reform, he helped to lead peaceful protests for racial justice in Atlanta, and he used his platform inside the NBA bubble to consistently speak on both topics for the entire nation to hear.
Brown humbly stated that providing such effort within a community should not be rewarded. However, he was also thankful for the recognition, as he went on to reflect upon his time in Boston and how he hopes to continue to impact the city for years to come.
“I’ve been in Boston for five years, and I’m a Bostonian now in a sense,” Brown said on Dec. 12 after earning the Globe’s recognition. “It’s a major time of my life I’ve spent in Boston now. I’m trying to be a part of the solutions and not the problems here, and trying to see where I can help out because it takes a community, and I’m trying to be a part of this community. I’m definitely trying to get more engaged and see where I can help out the most.”
Brown’s willingness to help in such a variety of ways has enabled him to become one of the NBA’s top role models. Even though he’s only 24 years old, many older fans, players and coaches are already looking up to him and following his lead. Twenty years Brown’s elder, Celtics coach Brad Stevens is one of them.
“I think a couple of things that are most important about being a leader, especially when you’re a younger player in the league and people are already starting to look to you, is that you’re willing to serve other people and help them soar and be the best they can be,” Stevens said. “That you set a great example and that you do so within your own personality. It’s important to be authentic, and I think he’s good at all three of those things. I think he’s a person who really is all about all the good stuff. I think that he’s already a good leader. And I think he will become one of the game’s better (leaders) over the course of time.”
Brown also displays such leadership among his teammates, especially when getting newcomers acclimated to the city of Boston. Jeff Teague, who spent the first half of the season with Boston, said that Brown checked in on him daily after joining the team right at the start of training camp, giving him tidbits of advice and offerings of assistance.
“He’s got a great heart, man,” said the 32-year-old former All-Star, who is now with the Milwaukee Bucks. “When I first got [to Boston], he was the first guy to call me and tell me, if I needed anything, he’d show me around the city and let me know anything. That’s just the kind of person that he is. Since I’ve been here, he’s texted me every day, seeing if I was cool, if I needed anything, where to go to eat, what’s a cool spot to order in from, and things like that. So that’s just the kind of person he is, and I think we all know that he’s a special person.”
It was evident how special of a person Brown was as soon as he stepped foot into Boston in the summer of 2016. He has since spent the last four-plus years carving out a role as a leading figure within the community, all while earning the respect of his teammates, coaches and fellow citizens. And after being recognized as such, Brown hopes to expand his role within the Boston community even more.
“I think I've always been a leader in a sense,” said Brown. “Whether it's on-court or off the court, it's just natural. It's not anything that's unfamiliar to me. It's just now the opportunity's being presented, and you just gotta step into that role.”
Boston is lucky to have such a young, bright and motivated person step into such a role, and now Brown is deservedly being recognized for doing so.