Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas died in his home Thursday at 33 years old. ESPN reports that his family believes his cause of death to have been a seizure. Thomas played at Georgia Tech and was picked in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. He played in the league for nine years, spending eight seasons with the Broncos, during which they won Super Bowl L. Thomas had officially announced his retirement in June after four Pro Bowl appearances, and was a beloved teammate and friend.
This morning, former teammate Peyton Manning shared a statement that read, in part, “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… Absolutely devastated.”
Tim Tebow tweeted “So many are going to remember him for his athletic ability… but I’ll be remembering him for his kindness, his smile that would light up a room, and the love he had for those in his life.”
The Denver Broncos organization released a longer statement on Thomas, referring to him as “one of the greatest players in franchise history” with a legacy that “extended far beyond the playing field as a caring, generous member of our community.”
Countless other fans, sportswriters and former teammates and opponents are mourning the loss of Thomas, who was known for his quiet, hardworking, and endlessly kind demeanor. He would have turned 34 on Christmas Day. Thomas, a Georgia native, was raised by his aunt and uncle after his mother and grandmother were sentenced for crack cocaine distribution. President Barack Obama commuted their sentences — his mother’s in 2015 and his grandmother’s in 2016.
Despite injuries keeping him off the field for his first two years with the Broncos, Thomas was able to make his mark with Manning at quarterback and set several franchise records, including receiving touchdowns in a regular season and receiving yards in a single game. He had two seasons of more than 100 catches and finishes his career with 724 receptions, 9,763 receiving yards and 63 touchdowns.