Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was found dead in his Roswell, GA. home Thursday night, with early cause of death reports suggesting that it was due to a medical issue. The NFL star was 33 years old. He retired after nine years in the league and one Super Bowl ring.
According to AP News, Demaryius’ cousin, LaTonya Bonseigneur, said that they believed he had a seizure in the shower. He was allegedly found in the bathroom by his driver, who had a key to his place.
LaTonya revealed that “he had been suffering from seizures for over a year,” and that “we just spoke with him yesterday.”
“He was alone and a friend couldn’t get hold of him, so he called his driver, who has a key because of these seizures,” she said. “He went into his home and found him in the shower.”
It is unknown if the seizures were relatively new, a condition he had since a child, or tied to any football-related injuries. In his rookie season, he was plagued with injuries, the Denver Post reported, damaging his forearm, ankles, and later a concussion to the head. In 2018, right before the post-season, he was carted off the field with a torn Achilles.
“Demaryius was a great guy,” his cousin, LaTonya Bonseigneur said. “He came from humble beginnings. He knew God. He was raised in the church and by a close-knit family.”
“Even though he rose to stardom, to us he was just a kid from Montrose,” she said. “We never fathomed he would go on to do all these amazing things. He was just a kid who loved playing football.”
Over his nine-year tenure in the NFL, the 4-time Pro Bowler caught 724 receptions for 63 touchdowns and ran a total of 9,763 yards.
“We are devastated and completely heartbroken,” the Denver Broncos said in an official statement. “We were very much looking forward to celebrating Demaryius for years to come as one of the greatest players in franchise history.”
Demaryius Thomas also contributed his time to the Denver Broncos Boys and Girls Club, visiting children in the hospital, and helping the community with his annual football camp. Born and raised in Georgia, he treated his long career in Denver as a second home.
“Demaryius’ humility, warmth, kindness and infectious smile will always be remembered by those who knew him and loved him,” the team continued. “We have lost an incredible player and a special person in Demaryius Thomas.”
“D.T. was the complete package as a wide receiver, growing into one of the very best at his position,” Broncos president and Hall of Famer John Elway said. “The combination of his size, speed, strength and athleticism was unmatched.”
When Demaryius was just 11 years old, his mother and grandmother were arrested on drug charges and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Demaryius went to live with his uncle, James Brown, until the fight to free his family finally ended in 2016. Thanks to an initiative under President Obama, many non-violent prisoners with drug offenses were reduced and released, just in time to watch Demaryius win Super Bowl 50.
“I think that drives me more to know that they’re there and they’re watching me,” Thomas said right before the big game. “I try to go out there and play my best because they’re going to talk about it to the people in the jailhouse.”
Demaryius had no children and never married. His uncle, James Brown, died of a heart attack on Nov. 15 at the age of 69. Demaryius was able to attend his funeral.
“RIP Young Legend,” Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tweeted, with other football stars chiming in with condolences to their fallen friend on social media. Many fans also called for the Broncos to retire his jersey number, 88, on Sunday.
“My heart is hurting right now,” Broncos Hall of Famer Steve Atwater said. “We’ll never forget you my brother.”