Demaryius Thomas is preparing to take the field for the biggest game of his young, blossoming career, when the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks for Super Bowl XLVIII. Unfortunately, he'll have to do so without two of his biggest fans.
According to Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today, Katina Smith and Minnie Pearl Thomas, Thomas' mother and grandmother, respectively, were incarcerated back in 2000 and have been watching the Broncos' star receiver from a women's prison throughout his career after being convicted of charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine.
They'll again watch him on the grandest stage of all from behind bars. Thomas spoke about the unfortunate set of circumstances and how he uses it while on the field to strive for success.
"That drives me more, to know that they're in there and they're watching me," Thomas told Jones. "I try to go out and play my best, because I know they're going to talk about it to all the people in the jailhouse."
Smith is scheduled to be released in June of 2017, before what will be Thomas' eighth season in the NFL. Thomas received a life sentence due to having two prior convictions for selling drugs.
Thomas and Smith recalled the scene when the two were arrested, courtesy of Mark Cannizzaro of The New York Post:
They busted into the house when we were getting ready to go to school. The only thing I remember is my mother asking them if she could walk us to the bus for the last time.
Smith, in a prison interview with the Denver Post last year, recalled, “I hugged them and said, ‘I’ll see you when I get back,’ and told them, ‘I love you.’ But I never came back.”
The two haven't been able to share Thomas' success throughout his career. After enjoying a tremendous amount of success at Georgia Tech, Thomas was a first-round draft pick by Denver in 2010 and has been a huge asset in the playoffs, with 104.4 yards per game during his five postseason contests.
During the draft process, Thomas was asked about his mother and grandmother, but had no issues answering the questions. Thomas has never been arrested or even tried drugs, according to Jones' previous story in The Denver Post. In fact, the worst thing he's done was get a speeding ticket when he was 16 years old.
Having done this all without his mother and grandmother alongside him for the last 14 years has certainly been a struggle, but it has humbled him as a man.
Thomas was just nine years old when his mother and grandmother were taken away from him, but the career he's put together has been a bright spot on an otherwise tragic story for the superstar receiver.
Though it won't be until 2017, Thomas told Cannizzaro that he can't wait until his mother can watch him play, stating, "I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready for her to come to one of my games. She’s never been to one of my games through high school, college or the pros."
Perhaps when she does get to watch him play, he'll be a Super Bowl champion.