Sports have often been used as metaphors in life to demonstrate discipline, structure, accountability, and a myriad of other attributes. More specifically, basketball has been used by people far and wide to teach others how to work as a team, and be responsible for one another.
In some instances the game provides unimaginable opportunities, and Charles K. Brown, Jr., is living proof of the possibilities that accompany the NBA. Brown grew up in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia and he later moved to the lower Northeast near Oxford Circle.
He played for the basketball powerhouse Imhotep Charter, coached by Brother Andre Noble, before transferring to George Washington High School.
“He was always a really good kid, he has a great family,” Noble said to Liberty Ballers. “Mom and dad have been super supportive since he was really young, he came to us in the ninth grade...the quality person he is now, he has always been that way.” Noble said, as he has kept watch throughout Brown’s career stating, “It’s awesome to see his growth, especially as I work with inner city youth, you always want the story to end up being Charlie Brown...he maximized his potential...he grew about six or seven inches...he was about 6-foot-1 in ninth and tenth grade and he grew to 6-6, it’s always good because his story sends a message to other kids, to keep following your dream.”
Brown’s basketball journey has been nothing less than remarkable, filled with promise, joy, pain, and perseverance.
“I was raised in West Philadelphia, and I went to St. Joseph’s [University]...I went to George Washington High School, and Imhotep Charter, and I was around the city for most of my career,” Brown said. “I went to prep school in Connecticut for eight months...that was a good experience, it was an all-boys school, I was able to get away and try something new.”
Brown is in a rare company of athletes who were born and raised in Philadelphia and have played for the 76ers. Wilt Chamberlain, Wali Jones, Joe Bryant, and Aaron McKie have had this full circle experience. Maalik Wayns is the last person to hold that distinction as a member of the 2012-13 team before Brown signed in January.
Venturing out for prep school was a proving ground as he was able to grow and learn in a new environment outside of his hometown. He returned home to play on Hawk Hill, adjacent to his Wynnefield roots. Brown suited up for St. Joesph’s University and made an immediate impact on the Atlantic 10 Conference and Philadelphia Big 5. He earned All-Freshman honors in 2016-17, and he was named Third-Team All-Conference prior to his sophomore year. However a wrist injury in the preseason caused him to sit out with a medical redshirt and miss the entire year. He was All A-10 at the end of 2018-19 in what would be his final time as a collegian, upon forgoing his remaining eligibility.
Brown played a total of 63 games, scored over 1,000 points and finished with averages of 16.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, while shooting over 40 percent (37 percent from three). Nonetheless, he was not selected in the 2019 NBA Draft, and he subsequently agreed to a two-way contract with the Atlanta Hawks.
During the 76ers’ media day last week, Brown reflected on the moment when the NBA dream had become a reality.
“I think about media day in Atlanta, it was my first media day, and I’m looking at Trae Young, and it just hit me...this isn’t just for me, it’s for the name on the back of my jersey...for my city, and everyone that has helped me along the way.”
Fast forward and he is donning the Sixers’ uniform and preparing to compete and ultimately earn his next contract. His ability to defend guards and bigs keeps him at the forefront of the coaching staff’s minds. He is also a great passer, which helps on both ends of the court. Outside of practice and games, Brown is a terrific locker room guy who adds to the cohesiveness and camaraderie of the roster. He is a true Philadelphian, who understands what he needs to do both in and outside of the arena. He remains low-key with his sights set on being a professional.
He sums up his mentality knowing that he has to make good choices.
“[Last year] I didn’t know what being home and playing for my city would bring...good and bad,” Brown said. “[Signing here] was definitely a good feeling, I was trying to make sure I did not do as much, not be seen places, it’s different when you play for your city, you have to do things less, not be here, not be there.”
He played 19 games with two starts in the 2021-22 campaign. He put up 1.5 points and pulled down 1.6 rebounds, playing an average of 8.5 minutes. On Monday against Brooklyn, he was composed in the 127-108 preseason victory. He had two points, three rebounds and a steal in 13 minutes off the bench. He scored four points in over seven minutes in a win over the Cavs Wednesday.
The Charles K. Brown, Jr. story is nothing short of a best-selling book and Hollywood adaptation. Very few should be surprised when his life becomes a full-length feature film. Until then, he will continue to apply himself to his craft and the team. He has grown into an NBA player with a solid skillset on the wing. He feels confident that the dream and hard work will come together to help the franchise excel beyond the expectations. He knows what he has to do, and he is thankful for the chance to prove everyone right.
“It was a dream come true once I got that phone call,” Brown said. “I think I’m still living in the moment...like everyday I wake up, I’m blessed to be here and I work my hardest.”