Demaryius Thomas, a former NFL star and three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, has died at the age of 33.
The cause of death was a heart attack, according to his family, which posted on social media that Thomas, a native of Georgia, had just passed away. He was the seventh-ranked wide receiver in NFL history, according to research by Football Outsiders.
“He will be remembered for his smile, his laugh, his passion and his professionalism both on and off the field,” the family said.
Thomas was an undrafted free agent in 2008 out of Georgia Tech, which competed in the Atlantic Coast Conference with schools such as Clemson, South Carolina and North Carolina.
After starring at Georgia Tech, he played at the University of Georgia and received a scholarship from the Broncos at the age of 19. A three-time all-ACC selection and a three-time DFP All-American, Thomas signed a five-year, $40 million contract, according to financial analysis website Spotrac.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Thomas a “stalwart” for the Broncos and all of the league.
“Everyone has fond memories of Demaryius Thomas; he was an impactful member of the Broncos organization and the NFL,” Goodell said in a statement. “He was a player who commanded the respect of his teammates and opponents for his skill, his leadership and his work ethic. He was a good teammate, especially from an educational and mentorship standpoint. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
John Elway, the former Broncos quarterback who now serves as executive vice president of football operations, said in a statement, “From my first meeting with Demaryius, I knew he had what it took to play in the NFL and be successful. He never forgot where he came from and worked extremely hard to achieve his goals.”
The team said in a statement on Twitter: “Everyone in the Denver Broncos organization has lost a brother. Demaryius was a tremendous person with a tremendous heart and a great teammate. It was a privilege to know him and to call him my friend.”
The team suspended linebacker Shaquil Barrett for one game following an Instagram post criticizing Thomas’ decision to sign with the Texans, Sports Illustrated reported.
ESPN reported on Twitter that Texans head coach Bill O’Brien texted the Broncos about the incident and was informed of Thomas’ death.
“My prayers are with his family,” O’Brien texted back to O’Connor, according to ESPN.
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