Like many of the young stars taken high in the 2017 NBA Draft, Duke star Jayson Tatum didn’t develop a love of basketball in a vacuum. The St. Louis-born 19-year-old Tatum, who the Boston Celtics picked with the third pick in the draft, is the son of Christian Brothers College High School basketball coach Justin Tatum. His mother is St. Louis attorney Brandy Cole and he also has a younger brother, Jaycob Tatum, and sister, Kayden.
Jayson played high school basketball at Chaminade College Preparatory School in Creve Coeur, Missouri and was unanimously ranked as a five-star recruit. He picked Duke University and only played in a single college season before deciding to enter the NBA Draft. In 29 games, the 6-8 small forward averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, with a .452 field goal percentage. He started all but two games he played.
Here’s what you need to know about Tatum’s parents and his family.
1. Jayson’s Dad is a Gym Teacher & Basketball Coach in St. Louis
Jayson’s father, Justin, is the gym teacher and basketball coach at Christian Brothers College (CBC) High School in St. Louis. Justin is a graduate of the school, graduating in 1997.
As St. Louis Today reports, the 34-year-old Justin was hired by his high school alma mater in March 2013. He was previously the coach and athletics director at Soldan International Studies High School for six years.
“It was the right move,” Justin told St. Louis Today in 2013. “It’s a dream come true. It’s something I’ve worked for. It’s a job I love to have.”
There was speculation that Jayson would transfer to the school to be coached by his father, but he decided to stay at Chaminade for all four years of high school. He even played against his father’s team several times in the four years.
As USA Today notes, Justin won three state titles, one as a player and two as coach. Whenever his dad would brag about those, Jayson would bring up his own accolades, like the two gold medals he won with Team USA in 2014 and 2015.
“And then I’d have to break out my two gold medals that I won with Team USA,” Jayson told USA Today in 2015. “He won those in the state, I won mine against the world. I think I win that one.”
Although Justin Tatum never played in the NBA, he did play in college and played professionally overseas.
2. Jayson Was Born When His Mom Was 19 Years Old & Went to College Classes as a Toddler
In April 2016, Jayson wrote about his relationship with his mom for the Players’ Tribune. He wrote that his mother had him when she was just 19 years old, but she refused to drop out of college. She even took her young son with her to classes when she couldn’t afford a babysitter or his grandmother was working.
“By the time I got to sixth grade, my mom had gotten her bachelor’s and law degrees from St. Louis University,” Jayson wrote. Although he vividly remembers her law school graduation, he wrote that the importance of her sacrifices didn’t really hit him until he was accepted by Duke.
Jayson wrote that his mother was a major influence on his life, helping him with homework, inspiring him to do volunteer work and shaped him to be a better person off the court.
“Whatever I was doing off the court, she said, was just as important as the numbers I was putting up on it,” Jayson wrote. “In addition to homework, Mom had me get involved with volunteer work, helping out at a homeless shelter and mentoring young student-athletes in our city. I would go to their practices and games, talk to them about problems they were facing in school. Sometimes I would get to speak at their banquets or other team functions.”
3. Brandy Cole Had to Pass up a Volleyball Scholarship After She Learned She Was Pregnant With Jayson
In 1997, after graduating from University City High, Brandy Cole learned she was pregnant with Jayson. According to a Sports Illustrated profile, Cole was offered a volleyball and academic scholarship at Tennessee, but she had to pass on it. Instead, she decided to go to the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Her expenses went to car insurance and day care.
Cole raised Jayson by herself, so he didn’t grow up watching his father play college basketball at St. Louis University. Instead, he learned the game by playing bathtub hoops!
Eventually, he finally got to play with his dad after he returned from playing in the Netherlands. Justin coached Taytum until he turned 14.
In an interview with St. Louis Curator, Cole said her son was always tall for his age. “I remember after first grade, he was always taller than his teachers,” Cole said. She also said he always had a desire to be a star basketball player. When he was three or four, he insisted that he was going to be just like Kobe Bryant.
“I said, ‘You can’t be Kobe–you want to be a basketball player?” she told St. Louis Curator. “And he was like, ‘No, I want to be Kobe.’ I said, ‘Well, Kobe is Kobe, so you can’t be him. Why don’t you be better than Kobe?’ He was like, ‘No, I want to be Kobe.’”
4. Jayson Has a Brother, Jaycob & Sister, Kayden
Jayson has two siblings – brother Jaycob and sister Kayden – who are both younger than him and from his father’s other relationships. Justin Tatum told the St. Louis Curator in 2015 that Jayson is “head over heels in love with” Kayden and dedicated his performance in high school games to her. Kayden is three years old.
Jaycob is 12 years old. Justin told the St. Louis Curator that he wants to be a big part of their lives since he wasn’t present during Jayson’s childhood.
“I want to be dominant in their lives,” Justin said in 2015. “I thought, whenever I have a son or a daughter, you will always know me for the rest of your life, and I will do whatever I can to help you. That’s what I’ve learned the most, because this is my heart,” he says. “It would stop beating if I don’t see them.”
5. Cole Won’t Let Her Son Take Anything for Granted & Never Wanted His Academics to Suffer
In an interview with ESPN, Cole said she taught her son not to take his talent or anything else for granted. “We have a unique relationship. There’s no B.S.,” she said.
She has also made sure Jayson didn’t neglect his academics. He might be going to the NBA after just one year at Duke, but he wants to get a degree. His mom wants him to earn one too.
“Coach K [Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski] won’t retire your jersey until you graduate,” Cole told ESPN. “That’s a big thing for me. A lot of Duke kids come back and get their degree. I told him, It doesn’t matter how long it takes. He’s seen how hard I’ve worked.”
Throughout high school, she pushed him to do his best. He graduated with a 3.5 GPA.
“She’s my best friend,” Jayson told ESPN. “I’m the biggest mama’s boy ever, and I’m proud to say it.”