On January 15, Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep superstar Elijah Thomas scored 15 points in the first half of an 84-36 victory against Urbandale (Iowa) ABCD Prep. He scored 0 points after that, though he had plenty of opportunities to do so.
While some might have assumed the lack of second half scoring was due to Thomas’ own inefficiencies, that couldn’t have been farther from the case. Rather, the powerful 6-foot-8 forward was intentionally refraining from taking any clear shots as a tribute to his late grandmother.
As reported by USA Today, Thomas was looking for a way to honor his grandmother Annie Lee Bennett, who died on January 15, 2009. Because she passed on the 15th, Thomas decided he would score exactly 15 points in honor of her memory, and not a bucket more. He kept his personal dedication to himself so that no one could talk him out of the tribute.
“I didn’t tell anybody,” Thomas, one of the nation’s top sophomore prospects, told USA Today. “I probably should’ve told my coach, but it was just something that was really personal for me. He was wondering why I wasn’t finishing around the basket. I even air-balled a layup, but I told him later and he wasn’t mad at all. It’s something special I wanted to do for her. I just wanted to make her proud. I know she was.”
Thomas isn’t the first prep prospect to score a specific amount of points to honor a late relative, with Chris Paul’s 61 point outburst in a high school game after his grandfather’s death the most memorable.
Still, as impressive as Paul’s tribute was for its superhuman effort, Thomas’ honorary accomplishment was notable for his restraint. With Prime Prep routing ABCD by a final score of 84-36, it was clearly extremely difficult for Thomas to not score another bucket, particularly considering the fact that he had not made anyone aware of his tribute.
In the end, it all went as well as he or anyone else could hope for, all with his grandmother presumably looking on.