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One tough (but sweet) mother

Mary Thomas strongly influenced her son, NBA Hall of Famer Isiah

Updated: January 17, 2010, 6:07 PM ET
By Melissa Isaacson | ESPNChicago.com

They called her "Dear," which was short for "Mother Dear," not to be confused with "Mommie Dearest," but not to be taken too lightly, either.

When Mary Thomas died Wednesday morning at age 87, leaving seven children and 50-plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren -- "We really have to count again," said her daughter Ruby Carlsen -- her youngest son Isiah was overwhelmed by the void she leaves. Her sweetness and toughness and love had no limits.

One thing is for sure: ...

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