By JJ Beale
Shun “Streetz” Brown is in his second season with NetsGC, playing the pivotal role of the lock defender. Often tasked with guarding the best players the NBA 2K League has to offer, he is no stranger to a vicious crossover, a quick step back jumper or a vicious rim run. Brown has been a key contributor to the early season success of NetsGC, averaging 8.7 points per game on top of his stellar defense. Naturally, Streetz has been forced to constantly adjust on the defensive end. However, no dribble move, or step-back jumper could have prepared him for life’s most difficult defensive assignment — being a father.
“Fatherhood has changed my life for the better,” said Brown. “Everything I do is for my family… it gave me that happiness in life that I was lacking, and it made me appreciate life more by bringing a life into this world.” Brown has taken the position of fatherhood head-on, balancing being an NBA 2K League player and a father at the same time. “For me it’s been easy to balance the game and being a father because my family supports me in everything I do. Whenever I play a game I don’t have to worry about what they’re doing.”
While Brown may find the balance between being a father and professional gamer easy, it has not come without sacrifice. Something that Brown learned from his own dad, “When I was younger, he was a busy man and wasn’t around as much. As a kid I was mad at that, but as I’ve grown older, I understand now why he wasn’t around. Now, I’m trying to do the same thing for my daughter. I’m sacrificing so much time to give us a better life right now.”
When asked about lessons his father has taught him, Brown alluded to the fact that his dad was never one to verbalize lessons, but instead led by example. Something Brown did not realize until later in life, “Before I got to the league, we were inspecting trucks and our bond got stronger through working,” said Brown. “He taught me it’s ok to make some sacrifices along the way.”
The grind of the NBA 2K League season is one that certainly requires sacrifice and a strong mental fortitude. Players are in-market from February to August, with little time to go home and see their families throughout the season. While this is the expectation for everyone in the league, the reality of the situation for players is often challenging. “When I’m gone, it gets stressful just knowing they’re back home without me. It becomes hard living out here and when I’m away aside from 2K it puts a more stress that you can’t even think clearly sometimes,” said Brown.
While the stress of being away from family often weighs on the Chicago native, he tries to keep everything in perspective, often going back to the lessons his dad taught him. “I understood what I needed to do in order to even be successful in the first place. I try not to get down on myself about leaving but at the same time I go back to the drawing board and realize who I am doing it for, and it makes me feel better about my decision making,” said Brown.
The lessons learned from his own father as well as playing 2K professionally have taught Brown a very valuable lesson: it’s all a team effort. Whether it’s on the court with NetsGC or back in the Windy City of Chicago, he has learned he can’t do it all himself. Relying on the family he has around him, whether it be his girlfriend or teammate Steez, Brown values having someone to vent to about the stress that both life and 2K can produce.
In the spirit of Father’s Day, Brown took time to reflect on the most rewarding parts of being a dad so far, “I never wanted a daughter until I got one,” said Brown. “Now I wish I always wanted a daughter especially for someone like me who is always hard on themselves. Just having two women in my household gives me the peace I needed and the happiness I was missing out on.” Now that he is a full-time “girl dad”, Brown has fully bought in to the lifestyle and does not want to go back anytime soon, “It’s at the point where I wouldn’t even want a son… that’s how much I like having a daughter.”
Brown has found a tremendous amount of joy in being a parent, “The biggest reward I got so far is she actually looks like me. I like that a lot… to have someone that literally looks almost identical to you, it doesn’t feel real sometimes. Another thing that’s been rewarding for me is just seeing her grow into a young lady. I wish everyone could go through something like this,” said Brown.
In terms of Father’s Day itself, Brown has begun to show more and more appreciation for the holiday, especially for his own father, “As soon as my dad found out he was going to have a grandson or a granddaughter, when he found out I felt like our bond got stronger. Then it’s just me appreciating everything he did as I was growing up because I didn’t understand it until I became a dad myself and I feel like a lot of people don’t understand a hard-working parent until you’re in their shoes,” said Brown.
While the balance of 2K and family remains difficult, Brown is happy to be on the journey of parenthood, “I appreciate the whole three years it’s been, going on four that I’ve been a dad. It’s really taught me to be happy and enjoy life while I’m here.”