BOSTON (BVM) – Boston Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum has a heart-warming reason as to why he pulls on both of his ears before every NBA game.
Tatum – who has now led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in his six-year career – tugs on his ears moments before every tip-off. But, his pre-game ritual has nothing to do with superstition.
“Before every game, I look up into the stands and I find my grandma,” Tatum told USA TODAY as a high schooler in 2014. “We know to look for each other before the game. When we make eye contact, I tug on my ear and she’ll do the same. It’s basically something to let each other know it’s time to go out there and give it my all.”
Pregame ritual for Jayson Tatum. The ear tugs!
Let’s go Celtics
— Baz ☘️ (@Baz_Majid) May 18, 2022
“I’ve done it ever since middle school with my grandma and it’s something that’s carried over to now,” Tatum continued. “It just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t do it. That’s just my thing. I feel like I have to do it.”
It’s been more than a decade since Tatum began his ear-pulling tradition, and now, the 25-year-old continues to do so – even if his family members aren’t in the stands. It now serves as a method of acknowledging to himself that his family is always with him.
Tatum has always been extremely close to his family due to unfortunate circumstances. Many know by now that Tatum grew up poor, but his family tried their best to give him what he needed.
As detailed by The Boston Globe, Tatum would often go to his neighbor’s house for a warm meal. When the gas bill couldn’t get paid, Tatum’s mom would turn on the clothes dryer for heat and warm up water on a stovetop for baths. If the electricity went out, Tatum’s mom turned on her car’s headlights so that Jayson could still play on the basketball court.
It’s no surprise why Jayson also includes a prayer in his full pre-game ritual.
Notably, there may be some unintentional benefits when it comes to Jayson tugging at his ears. After all, studies show that tugging your ear lobes can stimulate the nerve endings that lead to the release of endorphins and other benefits. Maybe this is the real secret behind Jayson’s massive success.