Jaylen Brown didn't want to play Thursday night.
His Boston Celtics were playing the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors in an effort to keep their winning streak intact. Brown, a starter in his second season in the league, has been a big part of the Celtics' success.
But on Thursday, he called head coach Brad Stevens and said he couldn't play. He was too distraught. His best friend had died.
Brown is 21 and was drafted to the NBA in 2016 No. 3 overall out of Cal. He graduated high school from Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga. That's where he met Trevin Steede.
Steede was a member of the Wildcats' basketball team. Brown transferred to the school and joined the team. He was told he would likely take Steede's starting job on the roster. Brown didn't have any friends at Wheeler and was sitting alone at lunch. But after a couple days, Steede approached him.
"He walked up to me on the third or fourth day and asked me who I was sitting with," Brown said after Thursdays game. "He told me to come over and sit with him, and ever since then we’ve been best friends."
Brown did end up playing on Thursday. After calling Stevens, he talked to Steede's mother.
"After talking with his mom, his family, it inspired me to come out because I wasn’t in any shape to come out," he said. "I didn’t want to leave my room. It inspired me to come out and play, and I played in his spirit."
Brown played an exceptional game. He put up 22 points against the Warriors. He made three three-pointers, grabbed seven boards and had a pair of steals and blocks. His biggest highlight was a dunk after creating a turnover. The Celtics beat the Warriors 92-88, extending their winning streak to 14.
"It’s been a tough 24 hours for him," Stevens said after the game.
Stevens went through a similar situation as a coach last season when former starting point guard Isaiah Thomas played soon after learning his sister died in a car accident.
"Very similar talking points and meetings that I had with Isaiah last year," Stevens said. "He played really inspired."
Steede ran a YouTube channel called TLSTV, and it had more than 4,500 subscribers. The videos were mostly basketball related, and one even featured the best friends playing one-on-one at the Celtics practice facility. His last video was posted on Wednesday. The details of Steede's death are have not been made public.
Brown traveled to Atlanta to be with friends and family, and the Atlanta Hawks host the Celtics at Philips Arena on Saturday night.