BOSTON – Chyna Thomas, the 22-year-old sister of Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas, died in a one-car collision early Saturday in Thomas’s home state of Washington.
Chyna Thomas had been driving a 1998 Toyota Camry at 5am on southbound Interstate 5 with no apparent sign of trouble when the car began to drift onto the left shoulder, State Patrol spokesman Trooper Nick King told The News Tribune. The car vaulted a Jersey barrier and crashed into a large metal signpost. Thomas, who was not wearing a seat belt, died at the scene of the accident.
“We are terribly saddened by the tragic loss of Chyna Thomas,” read a statement from the Celtics on Saturday night. “The thoughts and prayers of the entire Celtics organization are with Isaiah and his family.”
Chyna Thomas was the daughter of Isaiah Thomas’s father, James, and stepmother, Lanita, according to the Boston Globe. When Isaiah Thomas was a teenager, he and Chyna would accompany their father early in the morning on Saturdays to work in a mission in downtown Tacoma, the city where Thomas was born and raised.
“The NBA family mourns the tragic passing of Chyna Thomas and we send our deepest condolences to Isaiah, his family and the Celtics organization during this difficult time,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement.
On the eve of their opening playoff game here against the Chicago Bulls, Thomas practiced with the Celtics before learning of the accident. He was planning to remain in Boston for the game Sunday, a source close to his family told The Globe.
Thomas, 28, is arguably the NBA’s most popular underdog. A 5-9 point guard, he joined the Sacramento Kings as the No. 60 and final pick of the 2011 NBA draft. Midway through his first season with the Phoenix Suns, who had signed him as a free agent, he was traded with little fanfare to Boston in what was viewed as a minor deal. Since that move Thomas has averaged 24.7 ppg while driving the Celtics to three straight postseasons.
This season has been his best yet. He averaged a career-high 28.9 ppg, earned a second straight All-Star appearance and led the surprising Celtics to 53 wins and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Ian Thomsen has covered the NBA since 2000. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here or follow him on Twitter.
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