Brian Babineau

Thomas, Make-A-Wish Give Young Fan Unique Training Camp Experience

BOSTON – The storied past of the Boston Celtics has been shared by fans from generation to generation. Tales of celebrated moments in NBA history along with memories of iconic players withstand decades to shape the timeless traditions fans still carry out today.

For 12-year-old Brooklyn Pierce, growing up miles away from Boston in a town just west of Des Moines, Iowa has proven to be no obstacle in being naturally drawn to the legendary franchise. The young fan’s brain works like an ESPN ticker graphic, being able to quickly recall various Celtics facts and key moments from their history.

Every morning Pierce wakes up in his bedroom that he has decked out in Celtics décor, team trinkets and images of his all-time favorite Celtics players. Each morning he also rises to a daily challenge as he battles cerebral palsy and epilepsy. At times, the ongoing test of strength is tough for Pierce to take on, but he perseveres with the same tenacity of the NBA stars he idolizes.

Back in August, the Celtics received word from Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island of the young fan’s dream to play alongside his favorite player, Isaiah Thomas.

Upon hearing the wish, Thomas wanted to create a memory suited for such a local fan, so Pierce received an invitation to join the team at training camp to be an honorary Celtic for the day.

“It is a blessing for someone to want to play on the same team as me,” reflected Thomas. “There are no words to describe it. It is a great feeling to help out and to be able to put a smile on Brooklyn’s face.”

Like a true draft pick, Pierce arrived in Boston Tuesday morning for the first time, dropped his bag off at his hotel, and made his way to the Celtics front office to begin his journey as an NBA player.

Greeting the honorary guest and his family in the office lobby was 2008 NBA Champion Leon Powe and team mascot Lucky. Powe and Lucky welcomed the family and gave Pierce a behind-the-scenes tour of the office. Walking around the office the young fan was enamored by the amount of team history displayed up on the walls and did not hesitate to share some interesting facts of his own with the two Celtics hosts.

After the tour, the family joined Powe for dinner with a spectacular view overlooking the TD Garden.

Halfway through the meal however a few unexpected guests stopped by with a different agenda.

“What’s going on Brooklyn,” announced NBA veteran David Lee as he and the entire Celtics training camp roster entered. “You ready to get out there with us tonight?”

“Of course,” responded the eager youth.

Pierce’s most beloved player, Thomas, then ushered him off to his mock press conference to sign his 1-day contract to become an honorary Celtic at the team’s open practice event for season ticket members.

Once the signatures of Thomas and Pierce were penned, the newly signed Celtic held up his own personalized jersey, tossed on his very own draft hat, answered a few questions from the media, and headed over to the arena to get to work.

When Pierce entered the team locker room, he found his locker alongside Thomas’ equipped with official team practice apparel and new Adidas sneakers. Once he was geared up for practice, the youth took a prideful step onto the renowned parquet floor to join the team at a closed training camp session.

Sitting courtside, the young fan soaked in all the action, making note of all the instructions coaches dished out to players.

Members of the team stopped over one-by-one to congratulate Pierce on his big night and to thank him for all the support.

Under the guidance of Thomas, Pierce assisted the players by rebounding during shooting drills before heading back into the locker room for a team meeting and to review film.

At the start of the open practice event, comprised of a 24-minute intersquad scrimmage, Pierce accompanied Thomas to the bench to cheer on the team.

Following the first quarter, Thomas had one final surprise for Pierce: A true celebration for the young fan’s draft night in front of the greatest fans in the world. The arena quickly became encased with applause as attendees learned of Pierce’s Make-A-Wish experience over a public address announcement.

Pierce was joined by his teammates at center court and smiled from ear to ear as Celtics Nation gave him a standing ovation.

“It’s been a huge boost for him,” said his mother, Jessica Pierce. “A once in a lifetime moment he will always remember.”

It was another noteworthy event for Pierce to log to his record book of monumental moments in team history. This Celtics memory, though, stars the young fan himself.


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