As a Wheeler High School star, Jaylen Brown drives a ball against Tucker in a basketball game at McCamish Pavilion in Georgia Tech. He says a Wheeler teacher told him she would see him in jail in five years.  It’s five years and he’s an NBA star.

Former Wheeler star says teacher predicted he’d be in jail in five years. He’s in the NBA.

I went to 12 years of Catholic school at a time when no one worried about a student’s self-esteem. A good student, I still still heard  bleak predictions for my future if I didn’t straighten up.  

However, the comment purportedly made by a Wheeler High School teacher to former student and now Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown crosses a line. 

In a 2014 tweet when he was a student at Wheeler, Brown wrote, “My teacher said she will look me up in the Cobb county jail in 5 years …Wow.”

Well, it’s five years later and Brown is an NBA star. That 2014 tweet by Brown has now been resurrected with commentary critical of the teacher. Many people contend it’s inappropriate for an educator to ever say anything of that nature. I agree. 

While an unacceptable remark no matter the student, Brown seems the most unlikley target. He worked hard both on and off the court in high school and college, and was noted for his self-discipline. 

In a profile of him as a high school player, an AJC reporter talked about his devotion to the sport, his weekly Hot Yoga classes to increase his flexibility and his overall drive to succeed. 

The 2015 story explained: 

The 17-year-old senior at Wheeler High School has turned his lifelong passion into a budding basketball career. So far this summer he's competed in Italy at Adidas Eurocamp, in Colorado with USA Basketball's U18 national team and in Washington at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy, to name a few.

Brown has a busy schedule, made even busier with recruiting. The five-star recruit is ranked eighth in the nation by ESPN and first in Georgia. He has offers to play at Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Marquette, Maryland, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, South Florida, Tennessee, UCLA and Vanderbilt. (He chose the University of California, Berkeley.)

Brown has had in-home visits with coaches from UGA, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Kentucky, Florida, Kansas and UCLA. He plans to take an official visit to UCLA when on the West Coast next month for an Adidas tournament. With nearly 20 offers on the table, Brown has options and he's in no hurry to get rid of them. 

Brown was celebrated for his academic achievements as well. When the San Francisco Chronicle profiled Brown as the standout Cal freshman in 2016, the story said

Long before he was a McDonald’s All-American, Brown learned to not let his physical gifts define him. His mother helped foster his diverse interests.

In middle school, Brown was captain of the chess team. He was active in Habitat for Humanity and Men and Women of Distinction, another community service organization, at Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga.

When all-star events took him abroad in recent years, Brown tried to learn the local language. He likes to meditate and practice hot yoga. When choosing between an FC Barcelona match or Atlanta Hawks game on TV, he clicks to his favorite La Liga team every time.

I don’t know how or why this jail remark was said to Brown or whether it was made in jest; any teacher at Wheeler in 2014 would have known that Brown was bound for college and a possible pro career. 

When I asked Cobb Schools to address Brown’s comment, a spokeswoman said, "The teachers and staff of Cobb County are united in a single purpose -- to see each and every one of our students succeed. We are proud of everything that Jaylen Brown has accomplished."

Cobb did not answer my questions on whether it was alarmed any of its teachers would have made this statement to a student. Or whether the district was prepared if  Brown chose to answer the questions many people are asking: Who was the teacher and did Brown report her to Cobb Schools at the time? If so, what was the district’s response?

No matter the context, such a comment stings and leaves a lasting impression. Asked this week about the tweet, Brown confirmed he did write it and never forgot what the teacher said to him five years ago.

Your thoughts? 

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About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.