One of the saddest stories in sports recently was the death of Boston Celtics’ guard Isaiah Thomas’ sister Chyna last month. The 22-year-old Chyna Thomas was killed in a single-car accident April 15. However, Isaiah has kept playing despite the family tragedy, suiting up just a day later, and one of his most impressive performances came Tuesday night, where he dropped 53 points in a 129-119 overtime Game Two win over the Washington Wizards. As Thomas later told TNT’s David Aldridge, that showing came on what would have been his sister’s birthday, and was inspired by her:
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 3, 2017
Aldridge asked “Where is this coming from, man?” and Thomas replied “It’s my sister. It’s her birthday today. Happy birthday. She would have been 23 today. Everything I do is for her. And she’s watching over me. So that’s all her.”
Thomas went into more detail in a post-game press conference, discussing how he spent six hours in dental surgery Monday and four or five more before the game (thanks to losing a tooth and having others damaged in Game One), and then (2:22) discussing playing for his sister:
“Today is my sister’s birthday. She would have been 23 today. The least I can do is go out there and play for her.”
Thomas flew back to his home of Tacoma, Washington last weekend to deliver a eulogy at his sister’s funeral. That eulogy featured him talking about how he considered giving up after his sister’s death, but then decided Chyna wouldn’t want him to.
“When I found out the news, I wanted to give up and quit,” Thomas said. “And never in my life have I ever thought about quitting.”
“I realized quitting isn’t an option,” Thomas continued. “That’s the easy way out. I will keep going for my sister, as I know she wouldn’t want me to stop. I love you Chyna and I miss you so much. And everything I do for the rest of my life will be for you. I love you girl.”
It’s remarkable to see Thomas having the playoffs he is despite physical and emotional pain. If he keeps this up, he and the Celtics (now up 2-0 in the series) are going to be incredibly difficult to stop.