Isaiah Thomas, the Boston Celtics' star point guard, had the game of his life Tuesday night.
In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Washington Wizards, Thomas put up 53 points in 44 minutes to lead his team to a thrilling overtime victory.
The Celtics' point guard, who is listed at 5 foot 9, averaged just under 30 points per game this season. Tuesday night was Thomas' highest scoring game of his career.
It was an incredible display that has earned comparisons to the likes of Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and John Havlicek.
The story behind his performance, however, is heartbreaking.
"It's my sister — happy birthday — she would have been 23 today," Thomas said after Tuesday's win. "Everything I do is for her and she's watching over me."
Celtics' Isaiah Thomas in emotional TNT walk-off interview: "My sister wouldn't want me to stop... Once I leave this gym, she's not here." pic.twitter.com/HFdXJYDKWb
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 3, 2017
Thomas' younger sister, Chyna, was killed in a one-car crash in their home state of Washington on April 15. Her funeral was held this past Saturday, after the Celtics' first round defeat of the Chicago Bulls and before their current series with the Wizards began.
The family reportedly put the services off so Thomas could attend without missing any games.
A statement from Isaiah Thomas: pic.twitter.com/ZkcvTpQ4oq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 19, 2017
Thomas gave a moving eulogy for his sister at the funeral, and also addressed how he has managed to keep playing in the face of such a tragedy.
"When I found out the news I wanted to give up and quit. And never in my life have I ever thought about quitting," he said. "I realized quitting isn't an option. That's the easy way out. I will keep going for my sister, as I know she wouldn't want me to stop. I love you Chyna and I miss you so much. And everything I do for the rest of my life will be for you. I love you, girl."
The entire team has been wearing black bands on their jerseys throughout the playoffs in honor of Chyna, whose death came just one day before the beginning of the postseason. Her brother has started every single game since.
Thomas' historic performance on his late sister's birthday seems to be aligned with the promises he made to her during his eulogy.
"My sister wouldn't want me to stop," he said in Tuesday's postgame interview. "The only thing about it is, once I leave this gym, I hit reality and she's not here. So that's the tough part. But, when I'm in this arena, I can lock in and I know everything I do is for her."
Thomas and the Celtics currently lead the Washington Wizards 2-0 in a best-of-four series. Game 3 will be held Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. in Washington.
See more from Isaiah Thomas' basketball career:
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