Hawks rookie Tyrese Martin knows how to do what needs to be done

Atlanta Hawks draft pick Tyrese Martin, the 51st overall pick in the second round, is good at doing what needs to be done – on and off the court. (Miguel Martinez / Miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com)

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Atlanta Hawks draft pick Tyrese Martin, the 51st overall pick in the second round, is good at doing what needs to be done – on and off the court. (Miguel Martinez / Miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com)

When it comes to doing what needs to be done, newly drafted Hawks wing Tyrese Martin understands the assignment.

Stepping up when needed is only a part of who the 23-year-old forward is.

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Like many families in the United States, Martin and his family members felt the emotional and physical impact at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly after returning home from school, Martin learned that his mother, Pamela Rynearson, had lost her job as a restaurant manager.

The food and beverage industry was hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Before March 2020, about 13.5 million people held restaurant-related jobs. By April 2020, the National Library of Medicine reported that roughly 3.1 million jobs in the food-service industry had been lost and more than 110,000 restaurants had been or were projected to be permanently closed.

“I was just looking at the bigger picture. I mean, whether it was boring or not boring, it was what had to get done so we have a roof over our head, bills to pay."

- Hawks draft pick Tyrese Martin, on working for FedEx during the pandemic

Without hesitation, Martin found a job working in a FedEx warehouse as his mother continued to hunt for a new position. He wanted to make sure that his mother and his siblings were taken care of.

“Since we weren’t one of the booming parts of the franchise, they had shut us down for good,” Rynearson said. “So when Tyrese got sent home from school, he picked up the job, was helping me out because I couldn’t find nothing. Like, it literally took me the better of 18 months to get a job. It was just so crazy. But he definitely stepped up to the plate and did what he had to do.”

Rynearson added that her son always has been the type of person who never needed to be told what to do. He just did it.

“Tyrese has been independent since birth,” Rynearson said. “Literally, always been a self-sufficient kid, always done things on his own. I can honestly say, his career, yeah, I may have been the one who sacrificed and made sure that he was able to go and do things. But Tyrese got here on his own. He was at the park every day. He’s in the gym every day. He just has a very good work ethic.”

That work ethic, of course, proved helpful for Martin as he balanced the monotony of handling boxes in the warehouse. Eventually, he got the go-ahead to go out on the truck to deliver packages. He continued to work at that for the next few months before he headed to Connecticut for the 2020-21 school year after transferring from Rhode Island.

“I was just looking at the bigger picture,” Martin said. “I mean, whether it was boring or not boring, it was what had to get done so we have a roof over our head, bills to pay. You know, things weren’t easy back home. So just knowing that the reason I’m doing it for is bigger than me or just bigger than it being boring, so that definitely was the biggest thing.”

Like fellow rookie AJ Griffin, the Hawks are excited about Martin’s potential. In college, Martin showed the ability to guard positions one through three and at 6-foot-7 has the potential to defend some fours.

On top of that, Martin improved greatly as an outside shooter between his junior and senior seasons after he quickly found his footing with the Huskies. He made 43% of his 3-point shots, which was up from 32% the year before.

He averaged 12.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists over his two seasons at Connecticut.

Now he looks to bring the hard-nosed, “get it done” approach to the Hawks. That’s what the Hawks organization has encouraged him to do.

“You know, just coming to here with confidence and playing, bringing that toughness that they asked for, the versatility to guard multiple positions, and, you know, do the dirty work, diving on the floor for loose balls, rebounding on both sides, you know, things like that,” Martin said.

He’s also ready to put the dazzle of the NBA draft behind him and focus on the work ahead.

“I feel like I just want to settle in – that it’s reality – than to feel like I’m dreaming,” Martin said. “That’s kind of what it is. That’s why like, I just, I just can’t wait for it to be gone.”

So Martin will focus on working out and doing what needs to be done to help him settle into his new chapter as an NBA player.

“I think definitely just getting started with workouts,” Martin said. “You know, I started this morning (Monday), you know, just getting some workouts and lifts in and just letting every day go by, and I think once it starts to like you get a couple of good night’s sleep into you and the same routine going, I think it will start to feel like regular where I’m settled in.”