Demaryius Thomas, a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who spent most of his 10-season NFL career with the Denver Broncos, died Thursday. He was 33.
The Roswell Police Department told the newspaper that Thomas was found dead in his home. According to preliminary information, Thomas’ death was caused by a medical issue and investigators do not believe foul play was involved.
An official cause of death has not been given.
Jeff Clayton, the athletic director at West Laurens High School in Dexter, Georgia, where Thomas attended before playing at Georgia Tech, told the Post in an email that “To say we are heartbroken is an understatement.”
Thomas, one of two first-round draft picks by the Broncos in 2010 — Tim Tebow was the other one — had a signature moment with the Broncos during the AFC playoffs on Jan. 9, 2012. He caught an 80-yard touchdown pass from Tebow on the first play of overtime to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild-card game.
Thomas also caught Peyton Manning’s 509th career touchdown pass in 2014, surpassing Brett Favre to set the NFL’s all-time passing touchdown record, KCNC-TV reported. That mark has since been broken.
Thomas retired as a Bronco in June and was honored by the team during Denver’s home opener in September against the New York Jets, the team he finished his career with in 2019, ESPN reported.
Thomas was Denver’s second-leading receiver with 9,055 yards behind Rod Smith. During his nine seasons with the Broncos, Thomas finished third in franchise history in catches with 655 behind Smith and Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, ESPN reported.
In 10 playoff games for the Broncos, including two Super Bowl appearances, he caught 53 passes for 759 yards and six touchdowns, according to the Post.
Thomas played in two Super Bowls. He set a Super Bowl record with 13 catches in a 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, then making just one reception in the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 win against the Carolina Panthers, KUSA reported.
Thomas was born in Montrose, Georgia, on Dec. 25, 1987. His mother, Katina Smith, went to prison on drug charges when Thomas was 11 years old, ESPN reported. With his father in the military, Thomas began working before school, picking vegetables for farmers to help support himself.
His mother’s sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2015, and Katina Smith saw her son play football in person for the first time in the Broncos’ playoff win against Pittsburgh in January 2016, according to ESPN.
At Georgia Tech, Thomas was an All-America selection and a first-team All-ACC choice in 2009, leading the team to the Atlantic Coast Conference title and an Orange Bowl berth. As a junior in 2009, Thomas caught 46 passes for 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns.
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