Former NFL star Demaryius Thomas dead at 33

Georgia native Thomas played college football at Georgia Tech and was selected 22nd overall by the Denver Broncos in the 2010 NFL draft.

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Retired NFL wide receiver and five-time Pro Bowler Demaryius Thomas has been found dead in his Roswell, Georgia, home. 

He was 33 years old.

NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, shown in 2018 while playing for the Houston Texans, walks off the field after warming up before a game. (Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Police from the northern Atlanta suburb have said they believe Thomas died from natural causes. “Preliminary information is that his death stems from a medical issue, and our investigators currently have no reason to believe otherwise,” Roswell Police said in a statement, per CBS News

A Georgia native, Thomas played college football at Georgia Tech and was selected 22nd overall in the 2010 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. He spent most of his career with that team, winning two AFC championships and a Super Bowl. 

We are devastated and completely heartbroken,” the Broncos said in a statement on Twitter. “Demaryius’ humility, warmth, kindness and infectious smile will always be remembered by those who knew him and loved him.”

“During nine seasons in Denver, Demaryius established himself as a dominant, record-setting wide receiver who was an instrumental part of two championship runs and our victory in Super Bowl 50. His legacy as a Bronco extended far beyond the playing field as a caring, generous member of our community,” their statement continued. “D.T. loved giving back — especially spending time with children — and impacted countless lives through the Broncos Boys and Girls Club, hospital visits, his annual football camp and many other genuine interactions.” 

Quarterback legend Peyton Manning, who played with Thomas in Denver, also released a statement on his death. “D.T. was a better person than he was a player, and he was a Hall of Fame player. That tells you how good of a person he was. He treated my kids like they were his own. He was there for every teammate’s charity event,” said Manning, according to Denver Broncos Chief Communications Officer Patrick Smyth

The fellow Hall of Famer said he had recently spoken to Thomas, and that he is “absolutely devastated.” 

The NFL also released a statement on Twitter saying, “The NFL family mourns the tragic loss of Demaryius Thomas and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.” 

It is believed that Thomas may have had a seizure in his home.

“He had been suffering from seizures for over a year, and we believe he had a seizure when he was showering,” said LaTonya Bonseigneur, a first cousin who grew up with Thomas — and was so close to him, they considered themselves siblings — reported the Associated Press.  According to Bonseigneur, her relative “was alone, and a friend couldn’t get hold of him, so he called his driver, who has a key because of these seizures, and he went into his home and found him in the shower.”

In 2015, President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Thomas’ mother, Katrina Stuckey Smith, as CNN reported, and a year later, that of his grandmother, Minnie Pearl Thomas. The two women — who were taken into police custody together when Thomas was only 11 — had been serving, respectively, a 20-year sentence for drug distribution and a life sentence for cocaine trafficking.

Per the CNN report, while attending an event at the White House celebrating the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 win, Thomas passed the president a note, thanking him for the release of his family members. 

“I just found out right when I came in from weights,” Thomas told The Denver Post back in 2016. “I had no idea. I was surprised. I was excited, too, it came this early. I heard 200-plus people get to have a second chance, and for my grandmother to be one of them, it’s a blessing.”

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