Celtics Guard Isaiah Thomas Starts Playoff Game Day After His Sister’s Tragic Death

Matthew J. Lee/the Boston Globe via Getty Images
Matthew J. Lee/the Boston Globe via Getty Images

Updated Sunday, April 16, 2017, 6:40 p.m. EDT: All-Star Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas took to the court with a heavy heart on Sunday to start Game 1 of the NBA playoffs against the Chicago Bulls, the day after his younger sister, Chyna Thomas, died in a car accident.

Before tipoff, Thomas shed tears for his baby sis during a moment of silence at TD Garden in Boston. Thomas was also wearing shoes with a tribute written on the sides that read, “R.I.P, lil sis.”

TNT screenshot
TNT screenshot


Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas received news of his baby sister’s death right after he finished practice for his playoff-bound team on Saturday afternoon.

Chyna Thomas, 22, died at the scene of a one-car crash on Interstate 5 in Federal Way, Wash., about 5 a.m. Saturday, according to police.

ESPN reports that Thomas was talking to a reporter after practice when Avery Bradley, a fellow Tacoma, Wash., native, emerged from the trainer’s room and pulled him away. Thomas never returned to engage in other scheduled media requests.


A source told ESPN that the 28-year-old will play with his team Sunday evening, when the team opens its first-round series against the Chicago Bulls in Boston. However, given the emotional upheaval of the sudden death of a family member, that decision is not written in stone.

Isaiah Thomas’ father, James, reportedly told the Boston Herald that his son hadn’t decided when he would fly home to Tacoma to be with family.


Police said the accident occurred when Chyna Thomas’ 1998 Toyota Camry suddenly drifted onto the left shoulder of the highway and traveled about 50 feet before hitting a large metal pole. She was not wearing her seat belt, according to authorities.

Isaiah Thomas, who was named an NBA All-Star for the second consecutive year, averaged 28.9 points and 5.8 assists in leading the Celtics to the top seed in the Eastern Conference.


In a statement released Saturday, the Celtics extended their condolences to the Thomas family:

We are terribly saddened by the tragic loss of Chyna Thomas. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Celtics organization are with Isaiah and his family.


We wish Thomas and his family peace at this time.

Read more at ESPN and the Boston Herald.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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Not Enough Day Drinking

Based on the photo of the car I saw, the passenger compartment looks completely fine. In other words, she would be alive (with some minor bruises) if she had been wearing her seat belt. Not trying to blame her, just a reminder that some tragedies are avoidable...buckle up.