With the family’s plans still in flux for the funeral of Chyna Thomas in Washington, Thomas chose to play and took the court for Game 1 in TD Garden. He led the team onto the court, with fans chanting “I.T.! I.T.!” and the words “Chyna,” “RIP Lil Sis” and “I love you” written on his shoes. Tears could be seen streaming down Thomas’s face during a moment of silence for her.
It was a nearly overwhelming pregame scene, and Coach Brad Stevens had admitted earlier that Thomas was “struggling” and that the decision whether to play was all his.
“He went through our shoot around,” Stevens said. “He is … he’s struggling. Obviously it’s tragic circumstances that he and his family are going through right now, and our thoughts are first and foremost with all of them. I think his intention is to play.”
There were especially difficult moments during the shoot around, too, and Avery Bradley, who had broken the news to him Saturday, consoling him, and Stevens said he supported his player no matter what his decision.
“We talked a little bit night and then again today about as he goes through it and if he feels like he needs to not, then whatever he wants,” Stevens said. “I think that one of the things that I’ve learned, having been through situations in the past is that there’s really no right or wrong answer. It’s whatever’s right for him, and that’s what we’ve encouraged him. He’s really hurt. It’s a tough situation.”
Thomas had signed off social media Thursday to be “locked in” for the playoffs and was talking to a reporter after practice when Bradley, who is also from Tacoma, pulled him away to deliver the news, ESPN reported.
Thomas, 28, had spoken Friday about how excited he was for the playoffs. “I’m ready for it,” he said. He will have support because the Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported that some members of his “inner circle” were heading to Boston to be with him ahead of the game.
Chyna Thomas, 22, was pronounced dead at the scene of a single-car accident on Interstate 5 in Federal Way, Wash., shortly before 5 a.m. Saturday. Thomas, whose Facebook page describes her as a package handler for Federal Express and a former student at Tacoma’s School of the Arts, died at the scene, a Washington State Patrol official told Seattle’s KIRO-TV.
Her car, a 1998 Toyota Camry, suddenly “started to drift very casually onto the left shoulder,” State Patrol spokesman Nick King told KIRO. It hit a Jersey barrier “that vaulted the vehicle head-on into the sign post,” King said. The car came to rest atop the barrier and a large metal pole that held a sign on the shoulder of the freeway. According to the state patrol, she was not wearing her seat belt.
Chyna is the daughter of Isaiah’s father, James, and his stepmother, LaNita.