Brandy Cole-Barnes, Jayson Tatum’s Mother: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Jayson Tatum and his mother Brandy

Getty Jayson Tatum and his mother Brandy

Jayson Tatum’s mother is Brandy Cole-Barnes, and she raised Tatum as a young, single mother under difficult circumstances in St. Louis, Missouri. The two are very close now and Cole-Barnes is often seen at Boston Celtics games alongside her grandson, Tatum’s son Deuce.

Here’s what you need to know about Jayson Tatum’s mother Brandy Cole-Barnes:

1. Jayson Tatum’s Mother Brandy Cole-Barnes Found Out That She Was Pregnant With Him Just After Her High School Graduation

Tatum’s mother is Brandy Cole, who is now known as Brandy Cole-Barnes after she married Marcus Barnes in 2016. Cole-Barnes learned that she was pregnant with Tatum on July 4, 1997, just after she graduated from University City High School, ESPN reported. Tatum was born on March 3, 1998, when his mother was 19 years old. His father is Justin Tatum and he was involved in his son’s upbringing, but the Celtics star’s parents weren’t together and he was raised mostly by his single mom.

Cole-Barnes had always known she wanted to pursue higher education and she didn’t want her pregnancy and motherhood to prevent her from achieving her goals. She’d been a talented volleyball player in high school and she’d decided to go to Tennessee on a volleyball scholarship instead of her original plan, MIT for biomedical engineering, due to the latter program’s high costs, the Sentinel & Enterprise reported.

Cole-Barnes said, “When I found out I was pregnant on the Fourth of July, I just stayed home.” She changed her plan again and decided to attend the University of Missouri-St. Louis to study political science, but it was clear she wouldn’t let being a single mother get in the way of her goals. “I had Jayson on spring break,” she told the publication. “I had to go back the next week and take midterms.”

2. Brandy Cole-Barnes Worked Several Jobs to Make Ends Meet & She Sometimes Wasn’t Able to Pay All Their Bills

Tatum and his mother didn’t have it easy when he was growing up but she always made it work, no matter what obstacles they faced. Cole-Barnes bought their home, a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house, when he was 3 years old. Sometimes there wouldn’t be enough money to pay the bills, so there would be no heat, the Boston Globe wrote. Cole-Barnes would heat water on the stove for baths, or plug a small space heater in her bedroom and sleep with her young son in her arms.

Other times, it was the electricity that was cut off, and the young mother recalled turning on her car’s headlights to give Tatum an illuminated basketball court to practice on. “There were times when, yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have paid for him to travel with this team or go to this tournament,” she told the publication. “There were times if I hadn’t done that, we would have had the electricity on. But I knew that’s what he wanted, and I knew he was special.”

While speaking with ESPN’s Sage Steele outside his old house, Tatum said one of his neighbors would often help feed them. “I would walk out and I would go over there and knock on her door and she’d give us a chicken pot pie,” he shared. “And we’d heat it up and my mom would let me eat the middle of it and she’d eat the crust on the outside.”

One of the lowest days they both recalled was when Tatum was just 8 or 9 years old and they came home to see an eviction notice on the door. “My mom broke down in tears as soon as she saw it,” Tatum wrote in an essay for The Players’ Tribune. “Whether it was heat being cut off, or the water, it always seemed like it was one problem after another. And she was hurting. She went to her room. I could hear her crying through her bedroom door.”

Cole-Barnes managed to make it work once again and they kept the house. Tatum wrote that she was often working two jobs on top of her schoolwork and it made him realize that he needed to work hard too. According to Sentinel & Enterprise, she worked as a concierge at a mall and then in sales for Cingular Wireless.

“It was really tough, but it was what I felt like I had to do for both of us,” Cole-Barnes told ESPN. “I remember one day my mom called and told me Jayson crawled for the first time. I just broke down and cried.”

3. Brandy Cole-Barnes Obtained Several Degrees, Including a Law Degree, & Brought Jayson Tatum to Her Classes

Cole-Barnes obtained degrees in political science and communications at the University of Missouri-St. Louis followed by a law degree. Tatum was at her side the whole time as Cole-Barnes often brought her son to classes with her. “I remember sitting in the back of her classes, eating snacks or immersing myself in books or video games,” he wrote for The Players’ Tribune. “I kept quiet, listening in here and there — to me, most of her professors seemed boring and talked a lot. But I had my things to focus on, she had hers. It felt normal. So that’s what we did.”

While that story may seem out of the ordinary for most kids, Tatum never saw it as a big deal and for him, it was completely normal. “He probably doesn’t remember undergrad as much, but he remembers law school,” the basketball star’s mother told Heavy Sports. “He was 10 or 11 then, and he hated it.”

“Yeah, because it was boring,” Tatum shared. The mother-and-son duo would often do their homework together every night. Tatum recalled his mother juggling cooking dinner, answering his questions about his homework, and doing her own assignments. He wrote in his Players’ Tribune essay that he remembered attending her law school graduation and when her name was called, he “stood up in my button-down and slacks and screamed, ‘I love you! I’m proud of you!'”

4. Brandy Cole-Barnes Wanted Her Son to Have an Education & Made Him Focus on His Grades in School

With all of her degrees, it’s no surprise that Cole-Barnes wanted her son to focus on his education as well, not just on basketball. He wrote for The Players’ Tribune, “She started to demand that I work just as hard in school. She didn’t want people to look at me and think, ‘He’s only an athlete. All he can do is play basketball. He can’t speak well.'”

He said his mother created rules in their home to make sure his grades stayed high and he’d miss out on games and tournaments if they dropped. He recalled getting two Cs at one point and his mother didn’t allow him to play in the next basketball tournament. “No mercy,” he wrote. “It was an eye-opener. I never underestimated my mom again. It only took one time.” Thanks to his hard work, Tatum had a 3.5 GPA in high school, ESPN shared.

But it wasn’t just the classroom that she wanted her son to focus on, as she instilled in him the importance of volunteer work. She told him that kids would look up to him in St. Louis and that he needed to be aware of his actions off the court as well as on. He wrote that at his mother’s urging, he volunteered at a homeless shelter and mentored St. Louisans student-athletes.

Cole-Barnes also helped her son practice answering questions from reporters long before he was ever asked any. He wrote that he’d be watching TV or playing games by himself and his mother would come into his room and ask him questions about his plays in recent games.

5. Brandy Cole-Barnes & Her Son Are Very Close Still & She Is Often at NBA Games With His Son Deuce

Cole-Barnes and Tatum are very close now and the Celtics star’s mother is often in the audience for his games accompanying his son Deuce. It’s an amazing family dynamic for an athlete who admitted that he was really nervous about telling his mother that he’d be a father at 19 years old and hid his then-girlfriend’s pregnancy from the NBA.

While speaking with Graham Bensinger for “In Depth With Graham Bensinger,” Tatum said he called his mother at 3 a.m. to tell her Toriah Mimms was pregnant with their child. “I was like Ma, you by yourself? I gotta tell you something. I was like, she’s pregnant,” he shared.

Cole-Barnes remembered the phone call as well and said it brought her back to her own experience of feeling “terrified” of telling her mother she was pregnant with Tatum at 19 for fear of disappointing her. “I got your back in everything you do so we’ll figure it out,” she said she told him. Tatum said her words made him feel “at ease.”

Cole-Barnes said he’s such a “doting father” and she could tell that his entire perspective shifted when he became a father. “That’s what I’m most proud of, the person that he is, the character and then as a father,” she told Heavy Sports. As for Tatum, he told ESPN that his mother is his closest friend. “I’m the biggest mama’s boy ever, and I’m proud to say it.”