By Claire Miller
When Jaylen Brown has a few seconds to spare on the clock and an open floor around him, he likes to go to the basket with a reverse dunk. He launches his six-foot-seven-inch body off both feet at once, then pulls them together and tucks them underneath himself like a kid on a trampoline. His Celtics jersey stretches across his chest. With his back already turned to the net, he locks eyes on the rim over his shoulder before looking away and trusting his hands to do the rest. They flip back over his head, and with the confidence of someone who was born to play basketball, Brown scores. He is nimble and powerful—a natural athlete. But that is just his day job.
Last month, the storied MIT Media Lab named the 22-year-old professional basketball player as one of its 2019 Director’s Fellows. The research lab boasts a robust community of luminaries, including founder Nicolas Negroponte and architect Neri Oxman; Brown will be part of a special program that aims to bring new perspectives and ideas to the lab’s work. Other newly named fellows include Michael Tubbs, the mayor of Stockton, California, and legendary skateboarder Rodney Mullen. At MIT, they’ll attempt to fix the problems they see in the world using a method of research that its director, Joi Ito, calls “antidisciplinary,” meaning that each approach will be a unique and multifaceted product of an array of interests.