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Normally, when discussing NBA players, the conversation focuses on stats, not NASA internships and graduate courses. But Jaylen Brown is different.

The Boston Celtics guard has long been considered a different kind of athlete. Some coaches weren’t sure how he’d do under their leadership. But Brown is intelligent, well-spoken, and socially conscious.

The 6-foot-6 athlete sees his platform as a way to bring awareness to issues, including social justice initiatives. He also became the youngest elected National Basketball Players Association Vice President. So, just how smart is Jaylen Brown?

Jaylen Brown’s background

Brown was a high school standout with big-name colleges pursuing him. Instead of choosing basketball powerhouses like the Duke Blue Devils or Kentucky Wildcats, he headed to the University of California, Berkeley. He took graduate-level classes there and worked on his basketball game and intellect.

Always considered a gifted child, Brown told GQ that he was a victim and beneficiary of the U.S. educational system: “Putting kids on a certain track throughout schooling — gifted, accelerated, regular classes — it’s a track you stay on pretty much for your whole career, which impacts your social mobility in the future. In America, you pay for your education … It’s hidden, but it’s clear as day.”

In his only year playing for the Golden Bears, the 2015–16 season, Brown averaged 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and two assists per game. Then, in the 2016 NBA draft, the Boston Celtics selected him as the No. 3 overall pick.

Jaylen Brown’s dinner table

So with Brown giving talks at Harvard University and earning a fellowship at the MIT Media Lab, GQ asked him a simple question: If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be? Considering his educational background, Brown’s answers aren’t surprising. After thinking it over for a bit, he came up with four answers: Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, and Albert Einstein.

Brown’s answers are reflective of his personality. The activist is also heavily into math and science. His combination of brains and physical prowess may have something to do with his parents.

His mother, Mechalle, earned her Ph.D. and later worked as a professor. His father, Marselles, was a professional heavyweight boxer and holds the 2016 World Boxing Union Championship.

When Brown isn’t competing, he works on his clothing line, 7uice, and participates in social justice reform. In early April 2023, he visited with justice department officials while representing the National Basketball Players’ Association to discuss “social justice priorities and criminal justice reform,” as he posted on his Instagram.

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