Bradley Beal's "little brother" is all grown up.
The Washington Wizards guard and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum have known each other since childhood; Beal babysat Tatum as a toddler and later became Tatum's "big brother" figure during his teenage years in St. Louis. (Beal is four years older than Tatum.)
Tatum has made incredible strides since leaving the 314, blossoming into an All-Star with the Celtics and earning First-Team All-NBA honors this season as one of league's five best players. His play has helped Boston reach its first NBA Finals since 2010, and the C's are two wins away from their first championship since 2008.
Tatum hasn't forgotten who helped get him here, though, and recently recorded a video message for Beal that the Wizards star watched during an interview with Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks.
"Without you, it wouldn’t be me," Tatum says in the video. "You don’t get enough credit, but I’m always giving you the credit … My big brother, man -- I appreciate you."
Beal got emotional watching Tatum's message and explained to Rooks why it means so much to see his childhood friend succeed at the highest level.
"It’s surreal in a lot of ways. That's dope," Beal said. "Because, for me, I didn’t have that image, per se. To me, my older brother was my favorite player, outside of the [players] in the NBA. So I didn’t have that image of what a pro was like, what recruiting was like. Going through that phase, I’d seen it within my family, so that was my way of learning on the fly."
Beal runs a St. Louis-based AAU team that has produced several players who are in the NBA today, so Tatum isn't the only one he has mentored. But none of those players are closer to Beal than Tatum, whose mother was coached by Beal's mother in high school volleyball.
"That speaks volumes of his character and just who he is," Beal added. " ... I commend him. I salute that, because he's becoming the face of the league right in front of us."
Tatum is certainly making Beal proud; the 24-year-old dropped 26 points, six rebounds and nine assists Wednesday to power Boston to a 116-100 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the Finals. Beal likely will be watching intently Friday night as Tatum's Celtics look to take a 3-1 series lead in Game 4.