Isiah Thomas


Isiah Thomas : biography

30 April 1961 –

Drug overdose

On October 24, 2008, Thomas was taken to White Plains Hospital Center near his New York City area home after taking an overdose of Lunesta, a form of sleep medication. According to Harrison, New York police, they were called to Thomas’s house, where, finding him unconscious but breathing, they had him transported to the hospital. Police Chief David Hall stated that they "are calling this an accidental overdose of a prescription sleeping pill.” He was released from the hospital later that day.

In the opinion of Harrison Police Chief David Hall, Thomas tried to "cover up" the incident by claiming his 17-year old daughter required medical treatment when in actuality he was the patient. Referring to Thomas’ 17-year-old daughter, Hall said, "And why they’re throwing her under the bus is beyond my ability to understand."

According to Thomas, in an interview with ESPN, his daughter had been taken to the hospital earlier in the day, and he was also admitted to the hospital after he accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills. Thomas also denied that it was a suicide attempt, and explained that he was so quiet about his hospitalization because he was focused on his daughter and family at the time.ESPN Sportscenter interview, April 15, 2009

Isaiah Thomas’ unpopularity in New York

Due to Thomas’ many failures that occurred during his tenure with the New York Knicks, fans at Madison Square Garden boo the unrelated Isaiah Thomas, who is currently a point guard for the Sacramento Kings. The similarities in names may have played a factor in this controversy.


Thomas finished his college degree at Indiana University during the Pistons’ off seasons and received his Master’s in Education from the University of California at Berkeley in 2013. At UC Berkeley, Thomas studied the connection between education and sports, specifically how American society makes education accessible (or inaccessible) to black male college athletes.

Philanthropic work

During his playing career, Thomas paid college tuition for more than 75 youngsters. When he was a Piston, in 1987 Thomas organized the “No Crime Day” in Detroit. He even had the help of Detroit Mayor Coleman Young to call for a moratorium on crime in the summer of 1986.

Thomas founded Mary’s Court, a foundation that supports economically disadvantaged parents and children in the communities of Garfield Park and Lawndale on the West Side of Chicago. The charity is named for Thomas’s mother, who he credits with instilling in him the importance of hard work and giving back to the community. Mary’s Court has teamed up with another Chicago-based charity, Kids off the Block, to serve meals to Chicago children and families during Thanksgiving. While at FIU, Thomas and Mary’s Court donated $50,000 to FIU’s First Generation Scholarship and organized a sell-out charity game during the NBA lockout featuring NBA stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, with proceeds benefiting Mary’s Court. A street on Chicago’s West Side was named in honor of his mother.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boys & Girls Club of Chicago recognized Thomas’ philanthropic work in March 2012 and honored him with the organization’s King Legacy Award at their 24th Annual King Legacy Awards Gala. The award is given annually to individuals who have fostered the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through their community contributions.

In July 2012, Thomas joined the The Black Men’s Roundtable in Florida along with other national and local black leaders to discuss issues that directly impact black males.

In September 2012, Thomas co-hosted the Ballin for Peace Tournament at St. Sabina Church in Chicago, IL. Thomas came together with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Quentin Richardson, Zach Randolph, the Chicago Bears’ J’Marcus Webb, pastor Michael Pfleger, and others to throw this event in order to reduce gang violence through communication and basketball. Thomas also stressed the value of education for those in poverty.