Demarius Thomas, the former NFL wide receiver, was posthumously diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease known as CTE, his family and the Concussion Legacy Foundation announced Tuesday.
Doctors at Boston University’s Center for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) determined that Thomas — who was found dead at his home in Roswell, Georgia on December 9 — had stage 2 CTE, which has been associated with symptoms such as paranoia and depression. The fourth stage is the most severe.
Thomas was only 33 years old at the time of his death, and had been retired from the NFL for less than six months.
“As soon as I became aware of CTE and began recognizing symptoms, I noticed Demarius was self-isolating and saw other changes in him,” Thomas’s mother, Katina Smith, said in a statement.
“He was so young, and it was awful to see him struggle. His father and I hope all families learn the dangers of playing football. We don’t want other parents to lose their children like we did.”
NFL Newsletter:Subscribe now to get exclusive content sent to your inbox
More on the former star:The Super Bowl-winning receiver was represented for the Broncos, making five Pro Bowls
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office has not yet released the cause and manner of Thomas’ death, nor has it released a copy of his autopsy report. The office did not immediately respond to an email on Tuesday.
Thomas’s cousin, Latonia Bonsignor, For the Associated Press Late last year, the former wide receiver had been suffering from epileptic fits for more than a year before his death. She said the family believed Thomas died after suffering an epileptic fit.
According to a press release from the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which facilitated Thomas’ brain testing, BU doctors believe that seizures are likely not related to CTE. Family and friends told the New York Times that Thomas began having seizures in the fall of 2020, about a year after he was involved in a serious car accident in Denver.
“He had two different conditions at the same time,” Anne Mackey, director of the BU CTE Center, said. He told the newspaper.
Thomas won one Super Bowl episode and earned five Pro Bowl nods over 10 seasons in the NFL, most of which he spent with the Denver Broncos. He went on to work briefly with the Houston Texans, the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. Finally, he had 724 passes for 9,763 yards as a pro.