Mary Thomas dies at 87
CHICAGO -- The mother of Hall of Fame basketball star and Florida International coach Isiah Thomas has died.
Mary Thomas died Wednesday morning at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital in suburban Chicago, hospital spokeswoman Lisa Parro said. FIU said she was 87.
Mary Thomas had battled heart problems for years and underwent open-heart surgery in November, the same day her son made his coaching debut for FIU.
Isiah Thomas left his team and rejoined family in Chicago. While tending to his mother's arrangements, he will miss at least two FIU games. The Golden Panthers beat Middle Tennessee State 65-58 on Thursday night, and continue a road trip Saturday at Western Kentucky.
"We are truly saddened by the passing of Mary Thomas," FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said. "The Thomas family is in our thoughts and prayers during this time of mourning. I know how much she meant to Isiah and the entire Thomas family. Our hearts go out to Coach Thomas and his family."
Isiah Thomas said last month that his mother had been doing well in her recovery from surgery.
"She's a strong woman," Thomas said.
Mary Thomas' struggle to raise and protect her children from gang violence and drugs on Chicago's West Side was turned into a television movie, "A Mother's Courage: The Mary Thomas Story."
As a player, Thomas won an NCAA championship at Indiana and two NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons. He later coached the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks before ending up at FIU.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press