The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound dedicated a new basketball court on Friday afternoon at the Al Davies branch in Hilltop.
The court, named the Isaiah Thomas Court, will give much-needed teen space and extra basketball court space for the club to expand. It’s named in honor of Boston Celtics star and Tacoma native Isaiah Thomas, who was also a donor on the project.
The 5,700-square-foot gym is decorated with Nike photos of Thomas that were previously on display in Boston. The message, “Pick Me Last Again,” is in reference to Thomas being the last pick in the 2011 NBA draft who now is one of Boston’s best players.
Thomas was on hand for the opening, taking selfies and posing for pictures with excited Boys and Girls Club students. Thomas had encouraging words for the kids who attended the ceremony. He also told reporters that he plans on dropping by the club in the off-season to work out and get to know students.
“My job is to be around you guys so you can see I was like you,” he said in his speech.
Thomas was also honored as a Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound Alumni Hall of Fame member.
In addition to help from Thomas, the club also received a $50,000 grant from Lowe’s. Thomas gave $80,000 and the NBA Players Foundation also gave $20,000 for the gym.
Around the gym is a purple line that is 5 feet 9 inches from the floor — Thomas’ height. It’s there to remind players that no matter the height, nothing can stop them from achieving their dreams.
The moment was special for Sierra Raynor, the area branch director who has known Thomas since he was in the third grade. She’s been at the branch for 16 years.
“I’ve seen tragedy and I’ve seen heartbreak in this community and incredible success stories as well,” Raynor said. “With this gym and this space there will be a lot more success stories.”