This week the NBA honored Boston Celtics star and Tacoma native Isaiah Thomas with the NBA’s Community Assist Award, an honor given to a person doing incredible volunteer work across the country. In recent years Thomas has made his name on the court, but also for his work in both the Boston and Tacoma communities.
In late June, Thomas hosted his fourth annual charity basketball tournament. Thomas gathered a number of NBA stars from Washington Wizards like point guard John Wall and Seattle native, Jamal Crawford. The event benefitted the Thomas Family Foundation which donates money to different organizations from Tacoma to Boston.
“The only thing I’m trying to do is try to inspire these kids to be able to be anything that they want to be in life. And if they want to be an NBA player, it’s a realistic goal that you can set for yourself,” Thomas said.
Thomas has been doubted from very early on. At 5’9" he’s one of the shortest players in the NBA.
“There’s doubters to this day, I mean, that’s just what it is. I’ve been doubted my whole life. I just use that as motivation, use it as motivation to keep going, and let the cards fall where they may,” Thomas said.
In 2011 Isaiah was drafted last, 60th overall, in the NBA draft.
“We just wanted to get in,” Isaiah’s father James said. “It wasn’t where we was drafted at; it was just a point to get in. So it’s not over until that number 60 pick happens and he happened to be number 60, and he got in. “
Perhaps that’s why his story is so inspiring. Thomas went from the 60th pick in the NBA draft to a two-time NBA All-Star.
But despite his success, he has endured his share of tragedy. Earlier this year his sister was killed in a car crash. Still, he remains focused on helping everyone around him.
“That’s how I was raised. I told myself whatever I was going to be in life, whatever I was going to be successful at, I was going to give back to the community that raised me, the community that I’ve always been a part of," Thomas said. “Tacoma has been the place that raised me into the man I am today so I can’t thank the city enough.”