Bobby Thomas, Thomas’ father, also witnessed those behavior changes.
“He was paranoid, like, all the time. But memory loss, I saw that, as well,” Thomas said. “Every single day, he complained about, about having a headache.”
Thomas did not die from CTE, however. Boston University neuropathologist and CTE Center director Ann McKee told ABC that CTE does not cause death, but that “what CTE does is it changes your behavior and your personality.”
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office had yet to release a public report on the cause of Thomas’ death as of Tuesday, but the family said that Thomas died from a seizure, which is not a common symptom of CTE. According to his family, Thomas had begun suffering seizures since a 2019 car accident. He retired from football in June 2021.
“He was paranoid, like, all the time. But memory loss, I saw that, as well. Every single day, he complained about, about having a headache."
- Bobby Thomas, Demaryius Thomas’ father
It was a tragic final chapter for a young man who had overcome the most trying circumstances in his youth growing up in Laurens County in Middle Georgia to achieve stardom on the football field and bring joy to family, friends and fans with a giving nature and an irrepressible smile.
After achieving All-American status at Tech, Thomas became a first-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos, the start of a 10-year NFL career in which he earned five Pro Bowl designations and won a Super Bowl.
Smith said that, after her son’s death, she was against donating his brain for CTE research.
“And then I remember a conversation DT and I had where he said that, you know, ‘Mom, if anything ever happens to me, I wanna be able to help other players,’” she said.