DENVER (KDVR) — Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has died at age 33.
The news was first confirmed Thursday night by KOA and FOX 5 Atlanta.
Thomas died from medical complications stemming from a 2019 vehicle crash, KOA Broncos reporter Benjamin Allbright learned.
Police in the Atlanta suburb of Roswell said Thomas was found dead in his home.
“Preliminary information is that his death stems from a medical issue, and our investigators currently have no reason to believe otherwise,” a police spokesperson said in a statement early Friday.
He had been reluctant to travel lately because of the lingering complications from the crash, Allbright said.
Thomas was giving of his time and “always wanted to give back with everything he did,” including working with children, Allbright said.
“He mentioned that multiple times when he played for the Broncos, that he was so fortunate and so blessed, he wanted to make sure everybody else had a blessed life,” Allbright said.
He was a mentor to other players and welcomed people to the league, Allbright said.
DT: An all-time Broncos great
“DT,” one of the all-time greatest Broncos wide receivers, announced his official retirement from the NFL in June after a 10-year career.
He was a first-round draft pick for the Broncos in 2010 and played nine seasons with the team. He was part of the winningest four-year period in team history from 2012-15, when the team won two AFC Championships and Super Bowl 50. He also made five consecutive Pro Bowls.
Thomas finished his career ranking second in Broncos history with 9,055 receiving yards and 60 touchdown catches, while his 665 receptions ranks third.
He would have been eligible to be honored in the Broncos Ring of Fame in 2026.
In his 10 seasons in the NFL, he also played for the Texans, Patriots and Jets.
In 143 career games, Thomas had 724 catches for 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns.
From Georgia to Denver
Thomas was born in Montrose, Georgia, a tiny town in southeast Georgia. At age 11, Thomas’ mother and grandmother were arrested on crack-cocaine distribution charges and sentenced to 20 years and life in prison, respectively.
Thomas’ father was serving in the Army and stationed in Kuwait when his mother and grandmother were arrested in 1999. Thomas went to live with an aunt and uncle, Shirley and James Brown, a Baptist minister who lived six miles away.
Thomas took up football to stay off the streets and out of trouble. He went on to play at Georgia Tech, finishing his career there with 120 receptions for 2,339 yards and 14 touchdowns in three seasons.
In 2015, President Barack Obama commuted the sentence for his mother, Katina Smith, and she was eventually able to see her son play football in person.
During the Super Bowl 50 honoring ceremony at the White House, Thomas delivered a letter to Obama asking him to pardon the sentence for his grandmother, Minnie Pearl Thomas. It was commuted two months later.
Denver Broncos release statement
The Denver Broncos released this statement:
“We are devastated and completely heartbroken by the sudden, tragic passing of Demaryius Thomas. D.T. was beloved by our entire organization, his teammates and coaches, and our fans. Recently retiring as a Bronco, we were very much looking forward to celebrating Demaryius for years to come as one of the greatest players in franchise history.
“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. 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. Demaryius’ humility, warmth, kindness and infectious smile will always be remembered by those who knew him and loved him.
“We have lost an incredible player and a special person in Demaryius Thomas. Our hearts and deepest sympathies go out to the Thomas family and all who are grieving this unimaginable loss.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.