The sudden and tragic passing of 33-year-old former NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas remains an ongoing examination looking into a potential cause of death.
According to a news release by Thomas’ family on Tuesday, a posthumous brain study by Boston University doctors, in association with the Concussion Legacy Foundation, revealed that the receiver had Stage 2 CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) at the time of his passing.
The neurodegenerative condition has been linked to altered psychiatric activity, as well as being extensively researched by the NFL due to a trend in declining health from players that previously experienced concussions and head trauma. The medical update stated that Thomas had experienced “progressive behavior, cognitive and mood abnormalities.”
In December 2021, Thomas was found unresponsive in his Georgia home due to an apparent medical issue. No foul play was reported from the scene.
Thomas’ cousin, LaTonya Bonseigneur, spoke out regarding seizures Thomas had experienced leading up to his passing. She attributed Thomas’ history of enduring blunt force in the NFL and several accidents as a likely trigger for the seizures. Thomas also suffered head trauma due to a car accident in 2019, according to The New York Times report. His official cause of death has yet to be determined.
The former wideout had reportedly dealt with other CTE symptoms such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks and memory lapses.
Thomas’ mother, Katina Smith, added in Tuesday’s statement that the receiver started to isolate himself over time.
Smith said, “Once I became aware of CTE and began to familiarize myself with the symptoms, I noticed that Demaryius was isolating himself, and I saw other changes in him.”
She added, “He was just so young, and it was horrible to see him struggle. His father and I hope all families learn the risks of playing football. We don’t want other parents to have to lose their children like we did.”
Demaryius played in the League for 10 seasons, earning four Pro Bowl selections, breaking all-time Broncos receiving records and achieving a Super Bowl 50 win in the 2015-16 season.
Former Broncos teammate Peyton Manning reflected on the “special and unique” character behind Thomas that made him an exceptional player and person.
“I knew what he had done in just two years, but I also knew what he was capable of doing. That was a big part of the attractiveness for coming to play for the Broncos.
“So, for so many reasons, I’m very indebted and thankful to Demaryius.”
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