Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas has suited up in the NFL for six seasons now, but Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers will be unlike any of the previous 92 he has played in his professional career.
Not because a trip to the AFC Championship Game is on the line—after all, he's played in the Super Bowl. No, this game will be the first time Thomas' mom, Katrina Stuckey Smith, will see him play professionally in person.
Per Kevin Patra of NFL.com, Smith was sentenced to 20 years in prison back in 2000 on a drug-trafficking charge. In July, Smith was among 46 prisoners whose sentences were commuted by President Barack Obama. She was released from prison to a halfway house in November.
Smith wasn't allowed to travel for 60 days. But now she can, so she made the trip to Denver to watch her son play professional football in person for the first time.
After the final kneel-down of a 23-16 victory, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning gave Thomas the game ball so that the receiver (who had four catches for 40 yards) could give it to his mom:
At the end of the game, Peyton Manning gave the game ball to Demaryius Thomas so he could give it to Thomas' mom. pic.twitter.com/2kfwyRHEx8— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 18, 2016
Just the perfect ending to a special day.