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Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas describes impact Aretha Franklin had on his life

Thomas speaks at Franklin's funeral at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit

DETROIT – Former Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas spoke about Aretha Franklin at her funeral Friday in Detroit.

"It is with sad eyes and a very heavy heart that I stand before you today to celebrate our queen, Aretha," Thomas said.

He said he was introduced to Franklin by his mother. Thomas said he grew up on the west side of Chicago before "women's rights" and "women's movement" were popular phrases. He said his mother connected with Franklin's music.

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"In the '60s and '70s, my mom would sit in the windowsill humming the words to, 'I Say a Little Prayer for You,'" Thomas said.

After Thomas' father lost his job, the song meant a lot to his family.

"Aretha found a way to comfort my mom, and comfort us all, during those troubling times," Thomas said.

He met Franklin when he first moved to Detroit. It was the first family Thomas met when he arrived, and they helped take care of him and teach him about the world, he said.

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Thomas said Franklin loved sports and the Detroit Pistons.

"I know I was her favorite Bad Boy," Thomas said. "There was nothing more inspiring for me to look up and see my mom sitting in the stands, sitting next to Aretha, sandwiched in between Stevie, watching the Pistons game. I would pause sometimes during the game and say, 'I wonder if they knew how many nights they got my mom through, and how many tears she shed listening to Aretha's music.' To have my mom sitting right next to Aretha in the stadium was such a powerful and inspiring moment for me."

Thomas said when life was difficult for people, Franklin's music inspired them.

"Her voice, her soulful instrument, found a way to help this nation sooth and deal with its troubled past," Thomas said.

You can watch Thomas' full remarks in the video posted above.