I CAN REMEMBER when he was a little boy—this is how obsessed he was,” recalls Brandy Cole, the mother of Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum. “I asked him, What do you want to be when you grow up? His first answer in life was, ‘Kobe.’”

Brandy tried to explain to her son: You can’t be Kobe. You can be an NBA player, like Kobe. But you can’t be Kobe.

Jayson refused to accept that. And when mom dared to suggest that he could one day be better than Kobe, her son damn near lost his mind.

“I was like, Can’t nobody be better than Kobe!” Tatum remembers. “It didn’t even make sense to me.”

Not too long ago, Jayson Tatum hated the Boston Celtics. As a kid growing up in St. Louis, MO—a city without a hometown NBA team—he fell in love with Kobe and the Lakers. That love, dating back to when Jayson was 4 years old, ran deep. It was an obsession.

He retreated to his bedroom and cried

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