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Jayson Tatum’s Triumph Through Tough Love: How it Shaped His Career

Jayson Tatum attributes his current athletic success to the tough love he received from his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole-Barnes.

When they were both in college and living in St. Louis, Justin and Brandy welcomed Jayson on March 3, 1998. Although Justin and Brandy never cohabited and ultimately divorced, the Boston Celtics star attended his parents’ respective schools while growing up. He would go to classes at the University of Missouri-St. Louis with his mother, and he would hang out in the basketball locker room at Saint Louis University with his father.

Jayson, who calls himself a “mama’s boy,” said in November 2016 to ESPN that Brandy is his “best friend.” “I’m the biggest mama’s boy ever,” he continued, “and I’m proud to say it.”

Growing up, the NBA star’s connection with his father was a little more complex. He was raised primarily by his mother and never shared a home with his father, who left for the United States when Jayson was eight years old after playing basketball professionally in the Netherlands. Jayson credits his father with pushing him further in his career, despite having to take his father’s harsh criticism and teaching methods.

“He saw the potential in me before I saw it in myself, so having him be that tough on me in basketball really, you know, made me tougher on and off the court,” Jayson told KSDK.

Here is all there is to know about Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole-Barnes, the parents of Jayson Tatum.

After a four-year run on the varsity volleyball team at University City High, Brandy was ready to go to the University of Tennessee with a full athletic scholarship when she finished high school, according to WCVB. She was also the senior class president and one of the top five students in her graduating class.

According to ESPN, she found out she was expecting Jayson only a few weeks after she received her high school diploma. She chose to attend local college in St. Louis to pursue a degree in political science and communications instead of leaving the area, taking side jobs to help pay for daycare and school.

She told the source, “It was really difficult, but it was what I felt like I had to do for both of us.”

Throughout her higher schooling, including business school and law school, Brandy continued the custom she started during her undergraduate years of bringing Jayson to class. In an essay he wrote for The Players’ Tribune in April 2016, Jayson reminisced on his experiences attending classes with his mother. I recall sitting at the back of her classes, nibbling snacks or losing myself in books or video games, the author recalled.

“I kept quiet, listening in here and there — to me, most of her professors seemed boring and talked a lot,” he said. “But she had hers, and I had mine to concentrate on. It seemed typical. That’s what we did, then. Grandma and I would go to class together when my mom couldn’t afford a babysitter while she was working.

Justin was a student at Saint Louis University at the time, when he was also a basketball player. Jayson would get to spend time with his father during the pre-game talks in the locker room and on the floor. He was, however, primarily raised by his mother while he was little.