When the Cleveland Cavaliers raised their NBA championship banner earlier this week, Tristan Thompson wasn’t just thanking his teammates and fans but his family as well.
The Canadian basketball star has strong roots in Toronto and often credits his mother for helping him make it to where he is today.
“Me and my mom talk every day,” the 25-year-old said. “She always has a positive attitude. Sometimes when you’re down and things are tough, family (is) giving you that encouragement.”
On the surface, things aren’t exactly tough for the Cavs power forward, who signed a five-year contract before last season began.
Thompson was also vaulted into celebrity status beyond the sports world, for better or worse, while dating Khloe Kardashian over the summer.
The one person closest to his heart though is his youngest brother, Amari, who lives with epilepsy and has multiple seizures almost every day.
Thompson has a tattoo with the words “My Brother’s Keeper” on his chest as a constant reminder and a dedication to what he now considers his life’s work off the basketball court.
“Why not pull up my socks and keep fighting?” Thompson said. “Just seeing the families and hearing the stories. Similar stories that my family went through.”
His mother, Andrea, cares for his brother full time at home in Brampton and is proud of her eldest’s ability to stay grounded while living an otherwise glitzy NBA lifestyle.
“He sees what I go through,” Thompson said. “He sees that this means so much to me and I always teach my kids that it’s always better to give than receive.”
Thompson was presented with the key to the city of Brampton in August while visiting the outdoor basketball courts where he used to play.
Dozens of young fans were on hand to see one of their basketball heroes but he left them with a message bigger than the sport.
Learn to be a champion, no matter what you do.
“I think that it’s only right that I set a good example,” he said. “Not just on the court but off the court, and be a leader in the community.”