Becoming a father was the ‘best thing’ to happen


“It taught me a sense of responsibility.”

Becoming a father was the ‘best thing’ to happen
Jayson Tatum has had his son, Deuce, by his side over the years. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)

The fathers of the Celtics had to work on Father’s Day ahead of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, but being a parent was certainly on their mind ahead of Sunday’s practice.

A couple of players lamented that they had to work on Father’s Day and couldn’t be around their kids. Al Horford shared that he was excited to get back home and be with his kids once practice ended.

Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum reflected on his fatherhood journey. He admitted that when he found out he was going to become a dad, he wasn’t thrilled.

“When I found out that I was going to be a dad, I was still in college. I had like a week or two left. I wasn’t ecstatic,” Tatum told reporters. “I was a little selfish at that point because I knew that I was about to go chase my dream and be in the NBA. I felt like that was going to affect what people thought of me, affect where I went in the draft.”

Tatum’s draft status wasn’t impacted. Shortly after his college career ended in 2017, the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick, where many had expected him to be drafted.

Less than six months later, Tatum welcomed his son, Deuce, into the world, in December 2017. As Tatum was just over a month into his rookie year, he quickly embraced becoming a father and the lessons learned from being a dad.

“I’d be the first to say I wasn’t like super thrilled to find out I was going to be a dad, and quickly realized that it was like the best thing that ever could have happened to me,” Tatum said. “There’s nothing better than being a dad.

“I think, especially for me and my first year in the NBA at 19, it taught me a sense of responsibility because it’s tough being 19 years old and coming into fame and this newfound fortune. Nobody can, I guess, help you or prepare you for what it’s like to be 19 and have millions of dollars.”

Tatum’s decision to embrace being a strong father has been apparent over the years. Deuce has attended Celtics games over the last several seasons, often sitting courtside. In pre-game warmups, Tatum will often play with Deuce and recognize throughout the game.

Off the court, Tatum has frequently posted moments he shares with his son on social media. Just on Saturday, he shared a few different images with Deuce, such as one of him sleeping in the car and another of him playing basketball in the pool.

Tatum said having his son allowed him to prioritize what’s important as he recognized that he serves as his role model.

“I know that having Deuce at that age grounded me because whatever decision I wanted to make, I had to make sure that he was taken care of,” Tatum said. “I couldn’t just up and go or do everything that some of my peers were doing because I had to go home and put him to bed. For Father’s Day weekend, I was going out of town – or I had to skip out on this trip with my friends because it was my weekend with him.

“Not that it’s a sacrifice. I willingly would choose those things. But it has taught me a sense of responsibility, as well as just making the right decisions, knowing that there’s a 6-year-old mini-me essentially watching everything that I do and knowing that I have to be the best version of myself. I have to make the right decisions because he’s always watching.”

Tatum wasn’t the only member of the Celtics who shared a heavy moment on Father’s Day. Xavier Tillman Sr. admitted that he wasn’t sure how he was feeling on Sunday as his father, Roosevelt, died unexpectedly on May 19.

“I’m trying to be as present as possible,” Tillman said. “Obviously, with my father passing away recently, it’s a hard thing to talk about. I don’t know. I’m happy my kids are – they celebrated with me today. That was pretty cool.

“Hoping that my siblings are doing OK back home.”

Tillman and Jrue Holiday agreed that it “sucks to work on Fathers’s Day,” with each noting they wished to still be around their kids after spending time with them on Sunday morning.

With the Celtics one win away from a title though, both are keeping their focus on winning Game 5 on Monday.

“It is what it is,” Tillman said. “We’re here to win.”

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