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Former Bronco Demaryius Thomas had CTE, the study shows

The parents of the former Denver Broncos receiver agreed to donate his brain for research after his death in December.

DENVER – Katina Smith was a little overwhelmed Tuesday morning.

The magnitude that Boston University published its diagnosis that her son Demaryius Thomas had chronic traumatic stage 2 encephalopathy, better known as CTE, caught her off guard.

“I knew about the report and I knew it was coming out, but I didn’t know they would announce it (Good Morning America and the New York Times) when they did it this morning,” Smith said in an interview with 9News. “It’s revived so many emotions.”

Thomas, a Broncos star receiver from 2010 until he was traded in the middle of the 2018 season, was 33 when he died on December 9 last year after being found unconscious in the bathroom of his home in Georgia.

Smith’s reaction to having his son have stage 2 CTE?

“It brought a little relief, but it didn’t surprise me,” Smith said. “And then when he started showing up I got angry. Angry, frustrated, disappointed. Because football was a game my son loved with everything he had, but it also had something to do with his demise.

“I have a nephew who was going to play football at GMC (Georgia Military College) but left because of what his uncle went through.”

Demaryius Thomas ’family published the results of their study on the brain through the Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF), which organized the brain donation, to help raise awareness about CTE and encourage the football community to support research.

“They first contacted their father (Bobby Thomas) to see if he wanted to do this (donate his brain to science) because they had their contact information,” Katina Smith said. “Then his father asked me if we wanted to do this and at first I was still in mourning and I said, ‘no.’ And Bobby said, “Well, maybe if you talk to people they can explain it to you and then we can talk about it again.

“I spoke to Boston University and they informed me of what the process involved. But what really made me accept it was that the more I thought about it, Demaryius told me that if something happened to him, he wanted to make sure he left something to help others. It was very important. that my son did what he could for others. That’s why I agreed to go through it. ”

RELATED: “I Always Love Bay Bay”: Family and friends remember former Broncos star Demaryius Thomas

Stage 2 CTE is associated with progressive behavioral, cognitive, and mood abnormalities. In the years before he died, Thomas developed depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and problems with his memory. Stage 4 is the most severe stage of CTE and is often associated with dementia.

“Like so many that have passed before, we find Phase 2 CTE in the brain of Demaryius Thomas. The question I keep asking myself is, ‘When will that be enough?’ and will they insist that the game be changed to reduce subconscious blows? ”said Dr. Ann McKee, head of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the BU CTE Center and the VA-BU-CLF / UNITE Brain Bank.

He was the CEO and co-founder of CFL, Dr. Chris Nowinski, contacted the Thomas family to propose the CTE study.

Thomas played 10 seasons in the NFL for the Denver Broncos, New York Jets and Houston Texans, making four Pro Bowl rosters and winning Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos.

RELATED: 9 most important games in the career of Demaryius Thomas

Thomas was the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2010 draft outside of Georgia Tech, and played a total of 16 years of tackle football before announcing his retirement at age 33 in 2021, six months before his death. His cause of death has not yet been reported.

It has been speculated that his death may be related to an epileptic seizure. Although advanced CTE may be associated with epilepsy, it is much more likely to develop post-traumatic epilepsy after a car accident and a fall he experienced several years before his death, the CFL said.

The New York Times referred to the success Thomas received from Carolina Panthers star support Luke Kuechly during the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 victory. Thomas only had one catch in that game after setting a Super Bowl record two years earlier with 13 catches when the Broncos were hit by the Seattle Seahawks.

“He had such a strong headache after that success in Super Bowl 50 that he had to cut his celebration,” Smith said. “But what really started for him was the success he received at No. 48 (Kam Chancellor).) After that blow from Kam Chancellor, Demaryius was constantly working on his body because of the pain he had in his hip and neck.

“And it really all started in a game in 2011 against Minnesota. His chair has been bothering him since that game,” Smith said.

Thomas caught four passes from Tim Tebow for 144 yards and two touchdowns, all in the second half, in the Broncos ’comeback against the Vikings.

Thomas is one of more than 300 former NFL players whom McKee and the BU CTE Center research team diagnosed with CTE.

Former and current NFL players and their families concerned about possible symptoms of CTE can contact the Concussion Legacy Foundation Helpline for support at CLFHelpline.org.

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Former Bronco Demaryius Thomas had CTE, the study shows

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