When Jalen Rose decided to start the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit, Mary’s Court was there with a $100,000 gift. Isiah said “I think what Jalen is doing is great, so I’m trying to help him get the project off the ground with some of my resources. The more athletes can re-connect with their communities the better off we’ll all be. Some of us do a lot, and some of us don’t do enough.” (Basketball Legend Isiah Thomas Supports Education In Detroit With Gift To JRLA)
With Isiah Thomas’s donation to Indiana University, he was able to help students in the Criminal Justice Department based on their academic scholarship, career goals and financial need for several years. (Isiah Thomas Scholarship)
Understanding the importance of connecting with students and inspiring them to go after their goals, Isiah delivered the commencement address at the Cicely Tyson Community School of the Fine and Performing Arts in East Orange, New Jersey. Thomas’ speech to the graduating class focused on the idea that succeeding in any career requires hard work and endless practice. “We fail sometimes. But failure isn’t the worst of it,” Thomas stated. “It is the fear of failure that can paralyze us.” Thomas also praised Ms. Tyson for her significant impact on the arts and her continued involvement in arts education. (Zeke gives commencement speech)
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boys & Girls Club of Chicago recognized Thomas’ philanthropic work and honored him with the organization’s King Legacy Award at their 24th Annual King Legacy Awards Gala. The award is given annually to individuals who have fostered the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through their community contributions. (Annual MLK Legacy Gala honors 3, Supports E.G.P. Boys & Girls Club)
Thomas’s connection to his home town is unmistakable. He was on hand in Chicago in early August for the dedication of a street on Chicago’s West Side to his mother, Mary Thomas, for teaching him the importance of helping others and giving back to the community. During the weekend, Thomas also led the 28th Ward’s “Back 2 School” Parade & Picnic where school supplies were distributed to the first 2,000 kids. (Isiah Thomas dedicates Chicago road to his mother,)
Thomas is often heard telling the young kids he mentors that it’s essential to have faith and believe in your dreams. And that is exactly what he lives every day as he strives to help others. Mary’s Court, in cooperation with the Chicago Public Schools and other community stakeholders, has pledged a comprehensive 18-year education, health, and safety initiative beginning in the communities of East Garfield Park and North Lawndale. The initiative is designed to help every child born starting in 2011 to graduate from high school in year 2029 in a community that is safer, healthier, and one that offers a high quality K-12 education.