Written by Anastasia Reed and Anease Linnear
“A lot of people thought my career was over.”
This was the sentiment of those who doubted Dallas ISD alum Kurt Thomas while he worked to overcome dozens of injuries throughout his entire athletic career. Despite naysayers and hardships, Thomas proceeded to have an athletic career that personifies resilience.
Thomas, a 6’9” forward/center, started two seasons at Hillcrest High under head coach Steve Scott after transferring from David W. Carter High School following his sophomore year. It was at Hillcrest that he realized he wanted to attend college to play collegiately. His journey to playing college basketball didn’t come without overcoming challenges. Thomas broke his ankle during his senior year of high school. This would become a recurring theme throughout his career. Nonetheless, Thomas would continue his basketball aspirations at the collegiate level at Texas Christian University (TCU).
At TCU, Thomas became a force after claiming his spot in the starting lineup for Coach Billy Tubbs. During his junior season, he led the Southwest Conference in blocked shots. As a senior, he led the nation in scoring (28.9 points per game) and rebounding (14.6). He was named the Southwestern Conference Player of the Year and a third-team All-American during the 1994-95 season. His outstanding achievements on the court weren’t accomplished by avoiding injury. While at TCU, Thomas broke his ankle twice, which led to three surgeries. Despite those injuries, he persevered and would accelerate to the highest level of professional basketball – getting drafted into the National Basketball Association.
National Basketball Association
Thomas was drafted as the 10th pick in the 1995 draft by the Miami Heat. Early in his career in the league, Thomas broke his ankle four times in a two-year period. But like every other time that he endured an injury in his career, he persevered. Thomas would play professional basketball until he was 40. He played 18 seasons for nine teams, including the Dallas Mavericks. In his seven seasons with the New York Knicks, he was a key component of two teams that advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. For his career, he averaged 8.1 points and 6.6 rebounds while starting 650 games, before retiring in 2013.
A return home
Thomas currently resides in Dallas and is still making frequent visits to the gym at Hillcrest High School, but this time as a supportive father to his son Kurt Thomas Jr. “I never dreamed of my son being here, but I am loving every minute of it,” Thomas said while sharing that he has perfect attendance to his son’s games. Although Thomas believes that Kurt Jr. is a much better athlete than he ever was, he continuously instills the importance of remaining humble because he knows firsthand the trials and tribulations that can come with the game.
This month, Thomas was honored by the school that was a stepping stone for his remarkable career. With his family by his side, he witnessed the retirement of his jersey number. “I know I would not be here if it weren’t for sacrifices from people before me, so I am hoping I can be that example for those who come after me.”