Basketball legend Isiah Thomas is no stranger to defying the odds. Growing up on Chicago's west side, Thomas and his eight siblings could have easily fallen prey to drugs, violence and gangs.
But his mother Mary shielded him from those dangers, fostering his passions and remarkable talent.
Today, as one of the greatest players in NBA history, Thomas helps disadvantaged families beat the odds through Mary's Court, the family foundation that he supports through a donor advised fund at the Trust.
Mary's Court helps families in poverty by funding education, safety, housing and health programs in low-income areas across the United States.
Established in 2010, Mary's Court has supported literacy programs such as Reach Out & Read; the school and youth center at St. Sabina Church in Chicago; and scholarship programs at Indiana University, Florida International University and Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory High School in Chicago.
"My mother believed that education is the foundation and the key to escaping poverty," says Thomas, chairman and CEO of Isiah International, LLC, a Chicago-based real estate, waste management and investment firm.
Thomas also worked with Mayor Emanuel in 2013 to raise nearly $500,000 to expand Windy City Hoops, a Chicago Park District program that organizes free year-round basketball leagues for teenagers across the city.
In addition, Thomas and Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church created the Peace Basketball Tournament. The tournament brings together rival gang members willing to put their differences aside to play basketball, coached by NBA stars like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls, and Will Bynum of the Detroit Pistons. In addition, the program rewards players who have taken the pledge of peace with jobs and educational opportunities.
Thomas chose the Trust as a partner for its deep philanthropic roots and adept management of donors' assets.
"At the end of the day, my goal is to help and save families, especially kids," Thomas says. "I want to make their environment healthy and safe and give them a chance to succeed."
"The services that the Trust is able to provide are invaluable in helping me meet that goal. It's an important partnership as Mary's Court seeks to make a difference in Chicago and in communities across the country."
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