“He Pushed the Limits at Times”: Jayson Tatum Unravels Strained Relationship With His Father

Published 12/09/2023, 11:35 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

The Boston Celtics are dominating the charts in the East with a staggering 16-5 record this season. Undoubtedly, Jayson Tatum has been the driving force behind his team’s success this season. His statistics this season resemble those seen in a video game, leading the team in points (27.5) and rebounds (8.7). Notably, Jayson’s emergence as the team’s primary offensive weapon is what marked the dawn of a new era for the storied Celtics franchise.

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However, his ascent to stardom came at a steep price. Growing up, Jayson’s father assumed the dual role of a father as well as his basketball coach. Their unusual dynamic as a coach and a player prevented them from forming a natural father-son relationship. In a recent appearance on the Point Forward podcast, the Celtics’ superstar candidly spoke about his strained relationship with his father, Justin Tatum.

Jayson Tatum gets candid about his relationship with his dad, Justin

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Justin’s dream to make it to the league failed to materialize. Therefore, he took it upon himself to help his son achieve the soaring success that he had dreamed of for himself. In doing so, he approached Jayson more like a student and less like a son, which prevented them from forming a normal father-son relationship. His father had a tough-love approach to things. As Jayson divulges, his father “pushed the limits at times,” which put a strain on their relationship growing up.

However, in retrospect, Jayson believes his father’s strictness played a huge role in his success in the league. His dad would “push [his] buttons” which only motivated him to work harder and prove him wrong. Therefore, now that he is older and recognizes that, it has greatly benefited their relationship. The father-son duo is now closer than ever.

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Jayson won’t force his son to follow in his footsteps

Speaking to Graham Bensinger in October 2022, Tatum revealed that his relationship with his father was only limited to games, practice, and haircuts. They did not do normal father-son activities like going to amusement parks, picnics, or fishing. His father would also often swear at him and embarrass him in front of his teammates. According to him, this was his father’s way of motivating him, which luckily worked out for him.

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However, this is not an approach he would take with his 6-year-old son, Deuce. The Celtics forward does not want to put any kind of pressure on his son. But if Deuce wants to follow in his father’s footsteps, he will gladly step up and guide him. He said, “I don’t want that for me and him, what I have with my dad, even if it worked. I am who I am because in large part of how he pushed me so hard, but it had a strain in our relationship.” He further explained that if Deuce does not want to take up basketball for his career, he will respect that decision, too.

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Written by:

Darshita Daga

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“When you think about winning, you go to the extreme '' - I try to stick by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s words. As a passionate reader, who found comfort in libraries, I am pursuing a degree course in English. With my newfound admiration for Giannis and the Bucks, I decided to explore NBA journalism as my career.
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Edited by:

Ruth John

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