Middle School Gym Teacher Says 2024 NBA Champion Jayson Tatum And NHL Stanley Cup Winner Matthew Tkachuk Were Childhood Friends

Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum and Florida Panthers' Matthew Tkachuk both grew up going to the same school in St. Louis, Missouri, and now they are each 2024 champions in their respective sports.

Tatum transferred to Chaminade College Preparatory School (6-12) in the seventh grade, and according to their middle school gym teacher, Michael Derkits, the NBA and NHL stars were good friends. In an interview with TMZ, Derkits, even referenced that they had similar personalities.

"They were fun-loving, like to cut up, have fun kids," Derkits stated. "It's funny to remember them back as 7th graders, and see them progress throughout their lives to where they got to these last couple of weeks."

With Tatum winning the NBA Finals and Tkachuk taking home the Stanley Cup this month, it's hard to imagine that much talent came from the same place, as both were classmates and friends as 12 year olds.

Derkits also talked about being Tatum's coach on the school's basketball team.

"He was on a very talented team," he said. "But any time we needed a basket, or we needed something to happen, everybody kind of looked at Jayson, and he could make it happen."

Chaminade didn't have a hockey team, but apparently during gym class, the Panthers' left winger was scoring against his peers whenever they played field hockey.

"I had a rule with [Tkachuk]," Derkits said. "He could score one, but then he would have to get an assist because he literally could score one anytime he wanted."

Tatum, the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, averaged 26.9 points (47% FG), 8.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game during the 2023-24 season. While Tkachuk, the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, had 26 goals and 62 assists this season.

The two kids from a prep school in St. Louis both are 2024 champions, and their gym teacher will always be one of their biggest fans, because of who they are on and off the court/ice.

"We're awfully proud you were able to achieve your goals, but even more proud of the men they are and how they represent themselves."

Related: Jayson Tatum Takes Shots At Miami Heat While Celebrating Championship