After the Boston Celtics dug themselves out of a 2-0 series hole against the Chicago Bulls in the first round last year’s playoffs, Isaiah Thomas was forced to leave the team to attend his sister’s funeral in Tacoma, Wash.
She tragically passed away in a car accident on the even of Thomas and the Celtics taking the court for Game 1. While grieving, Thomas used the playoff games as a means to temporarily escape from tragedy.
He returned for the start of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and propelled Boston to a series win over the Washington Wizards in seven games. While he was able to cope with his sister’s death, a hip injury ultimately brought Thomas’ playoff run to an end two games into the Eastern Conference Finals.
Although it was a devastating blow for the then-MVP candidate, it paled in comparison to what Thomas was fighting through off the court. He’s openly discussed the special bond forged with his late sister and has vowed to carry her memory forward.
And though the Los Angeles Lakers missed the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, Nike sent Thomas a custom design of the Kobe A.D. to honor Chyna Thomas, which the point guard shared on Instagram:
Thomas is currently recovering from hip surgery that’s expected to keep him sidelined through July and possibly into August. It also casts further doubt on what may lie ahead in free agency this summer.
Thomas was already fighting an uphill battle because of an inconsistent showing with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lakers. Los Angeles reportedly is open to the possibility of re-signing Thomas to a one-year contract, should they fail to land marquee free agents they’ve so often been linked to.