Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champion Demaryius Thomas dies at 33 – 95.5 WSB

ATLANTA – (AP) – Demaryius Thomas, who has won five consecutive Pro Bowl honors and a Super Bowl ring during a prolific receiving career spent primarily with the Denver Broncos, has died aged 33 .

Thomas was found dead at his home in suburban Atlanta on Thursday evening, said Officer Tim Lupo, chief information officer for the Roswell, Georgia Police Department.

“Preliminary information is that his death was the result of a medical problem, and our investigators currently have no reason to believe otherwise,” Lupo said in a statement Friday morning.

LaTonya Bonseigneur, a first cousin who grew up with Thomas and was so close they saw each other as siblings, told The Associated Press the family believe he died of a seizure.

Family members were told by Roswell Police at around 9 p.m. EST that they had found Thomas in a shower at his home.

“He had been suffering from seizures for over a year, and we believe he had a seizure while taking a shower,” Bonseigneur said on Friday morning. “We don’t know when he died. We just spoke to him yesterday.”

She added: “He was alone and a friend couldn’t reach him, so he called his driver, who has a key because of the seizures, and he walked into his house and found him in the shower. . “

Thomas last played in the NFL in 2019, appearing in 11 games with 10 starts for the New York Jets. He officially announced his retirement last June.

He will be mostly remembered for his eight-plus seasons with the Broncos.

“We are devastated and heartbroken,” the team said in a statement. “We were very excited to celebrate Demaryius for years to come as one of the greatest players in franchise history.”

His contributions to the community have gone beyond the playing field, the team said, noting their work with the Broncos Boys and Girls Club, hospital visits, annual soccer camp and “many other interactions. authentic “.

“Demaryius’ humility, warmth, kindness and infectious smile will always be remembered by those who knew and loved him,” the statement said. “We have lost an incredible player and a special person in Demaryius Thomas.”

While he racked up huge numbers after the Broncos signed quarterback Peyton Manning in 2012, Thomas made his most famous capture the previous season, his second year in the league.

In the first extra time of an AFC playoff game, he broke free in the middle and came home an 80-yard touchdown from Tim Tebow beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

A native of Montrose, a small town in southeast Georgia, Thomas managed to make his mark as a wide receiver at Georgia Tech – even after the school hired Paul Johnson to replace Chan Gailey as coach.

Giving up on Gailey’s pro-style offense, Johnson installed the running-oriented program that had done him so well in the lower Georgia Southern division.

Despite a huge drop in the number of passes the Yellow Jackets threw, Thomas was often left as sole cover and was able to show off the skills that would lead the Broncos to take him with the No.22 pick in the 2010 draft.

Thomas ended his career at Georgia Tech with 120 receptions for 2,339 yards and 14 touchdowns in three seasons.

Teaming up with Manning, Thomas put in much higher numbers for the Broncos starting with a dazzling 2012 season – 94 catches for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns – which led to the first of five consecutive Pro Bowl selections.

He’s had more than 100 catches twice in a season, evidenced by career records of 111 catches and 1,619 yards in 2014. He has had five consecutive seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards.

In Manning’s final year, the Broncos beat Carolina in the Super Bowl to cap the 2015 season.

The Broncos also made the Super Bowl during the 2013 season, racking up the highest offensive numbers in NFL history.

But they fell with a groan in the title game, routed by the Seattle Seahawks 43-8, even as Thomas set a Super Bowl record with 13 receptions, totaling 118 yards.

“If we all played like him we would have won,” moaned Denver general manager John Elway.

When the Broncos returned to the Super Bowl two years later, Thomas’ mother got the chance to watch it in person rather than on prison television.

Nicknamed “Bay Bay” when he was a child after the animated film “Baby’s Kids”, Thomas was 11 when the police broke into his home and arrested his mother, Katina Smith, and his grandmother, Minnie Pearl Thomas, for drug trafficking.

Katina Smith was sentenced to 20 years in prison after refusing a lesser sentence in exchange for testifying against her mother, who ended up receiving a life sentence.

“I think it pushes me more to know they’re there and they’re looking at me,” Thomas said ahead of his first Super Bowl. “I’m trying to go out there and play my best because they’re going to tell people in the prison about it.”

The two women are said to be released by President Barack Obama as part of an initiative to reduce the number of non-violent drug offenders incarcerated.

Smith was released on time watching from the stands as his son won a championship. The first thing she asked him for after prison was a Sony music player.

“I don’t even know if you can find a Walkman now,” Thomas told him.

He bought her an iPhone instead. Soon after, she was texting like a teenage girl and calling her son all the time.

One of Thomas’ teammates on the Super Bowl winning team has expressed shock at the news of his untimely death.

“Sorry,” former Broncos defensive star DeMarcus Ware wrote on Twitter, posting a photo of the two together.

Similar feelings have come from current and former players in the league.

“RIP Young Legend”, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tweeted.

“I am just shocked to learn that Demaryius Thomas has passed away”, former Broncos running back Terrell Davis wrote. ” Left too early. “

“My heart is hurting right now” Steve Atwater, Broncos Hall of Fame Member noted. “We will never forget you my brother.”

After Manning retired, Thomas’ production began to wane as the Broncos struggled to settle on their next quarterback.

Then, during the 2018 season, he was traded to the Houston Texans. He only managed 23 catches in seven games with his new team and was released after that brief tenure.

Thomas signed with the New England Patriots, but was cut before their first game. He finished with the Jets.

In 143 career games, Thomas has caught 724 catches for 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns.

Thomas was not married and had no children, according to Bonseigneur. After his mother went to jail, he lived with an uncle, James Brown.

Brown died on November 15 of a heart attack at age 69. Thomas attended his funeral.

“Demaryius was a great guy,” said Bonseigneur. “He came from humble beginnings. He knew God. He was brought up in the church and by a united family. Even though he became a celebrity, to us he was just a child of Montrose. never imagined he would keep doing all these amazing things. He was just a kid who loved to play football. “


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AP sports editors Arnie Stapleton and Pat Graham in Denver contributed to this report.


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