Nelly used to walk Bradley Beal to school
MENTORSHIP

Nelly used to walk Bradley Beal to school

Since early high-school days, it was obvious Bradley Beal had a bright, athletic future ahead of him. In the 2010 FIBA Under-17 World Championship, Beal led Team USA to the gold medal, earning a spot on the All-Tournament team and the MVP award. As a senior, he earned a five-star rating from scouts by averaging 32.5/5.7/2.8 assists per game. Amongst the people he can thank for that, Beal has Nelly to thank. Yes, that Nelly.

Cornell Haynes, more known as Nelly, was a star athlete at University City High in suburban St. Louis. His baseball and football talents were under the supervision of the athletic director and physical educations teacher at University City High – Besta Beal. Bradley’s mom ran the show, and her star athlete became a friend of the family. So occasionally, he would walk Besta’s son to school. 

“He used to walk me to school sometimes when I was a little kid. He wasn’t as big as he is now, but he was an up-and-coming rapper, and eventually ‘Country Grammar’ came out.”

Bradley Beal, The Washington Post

Despite almost 20 years of age between them, the two remained friends. That’s why we would occasionally see Nelly sitting courtside, trash-talking Beal. Back when people could sit courtside at games, that is. You know what they say. All basketball players want to be rappers, and all rappers want to be athletes. The connection between the two groups runs deep and became public when Allen Iverson brought hip-hop culture to the NBA with no reservations.

Beal didn’t forget the mentorship and protection Nelly provided as the star athlete from his mom’s high-school. He decided to do the same for a sixth-grader from St. Louis he saw in a tournament in St. Louis. The kid was a lot taller than everyone else, played point-guard, and dominated on the court. That’s the first memory Bradley Beal has of Jayson Tatum. But his career of taking care of Tatum goes way back. 

“My mom taught his mom in high-school. My mom coaches his mom in volleyball. So she would come to practice and have Jayson. So I would be this little five-year-old, six-year-old, kinda’ watching over this baby boy, who I had no idea would grow up to be Jayson Tatum one day.”

Bradley Beal, SLAM

No wonder Tatum was so prepared for everything NBA life entails. He has one heck of a mentor.