Demaryius Thomas’ Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Demaryius Thomas family, Demaryius Thomas mom

It’s been a long and winding road for Thomas, but it finally appears he’s getting everything he ever wanted. (Getty)

Demaryius Thomas has been waiting for this moment.

For as long as he can remember, the Denver Broncos wide receiver has waited for his family to reunite, for his mom to get a chance to see him play football, for that support system he’s seen splintered into hundreds of different pieces find its way back together.

That moment has, finally, arrived.

Thomas’ mother was in the stands to watch her son help lead the Broncos to a berth in this Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. She’ll be in the stands for that game as well.

It’s been a long and winding road, a road filled with heartbreak and determination and struggling against a set of expectations the world seemed to have already set out for him. But, somehow, Thomas persevered through it all. And, now, after more than a decade spent waiting; his family is together.

Here’s everything you need to know about Thomas’ family, their struggles and their successes. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s starting to, almost, feel worth it:


1. Thomas’ Mother & Grandmother Were Arrested in 1999 for Narcotitcs Trafficking

Demaryius Thomas mom, Demaryius Thomas family

Thomas and his mother were incredibly close, separated by just 15 years in age. (Instagram)

Thomas will never forget the moment. It replays sometimes in his sleep, the driving force behind everything he’s tried to accomplish. He was 11. There police officers in his house and his mother, Katina Smith, was crying.

After hours of searching the house, officers found several rolls of cash inside a purple coat. Smith tried to pass off the money as her tax refund, but that wasn’t true. It was money from a drug trafficking ring that she and her mother had been running. Smith was arrested just as the bus pulled up to take Thomas to school. Smith described the scene to the Denver Post in 2010, saying:

I hugged them and said, ‘I’ll see you when I get back,’ and told them, ‘I love you.’ But I never came back. I held money on two, maybe three occasions. they said I was the bank, but I wasn’t the bank.

Thomas said later on that he knew his mother and his grandmother, Minnie Pearl Thomas, were selling drugs. “I told my mother one time that they needed to stop because I had a dream that they got in trouble,” he told the Denver Post. “I started crying like every night after then. And then it finally happened.”

After both Katina and Minnie were arrested, prosecutors offered her a plea deal if she testified against her mother. She refused.

Both women were convicted in February 2000. Demaryius was 12 years old. Katina Smith was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, Minnie Thomas, on the other hand already had two prior drug convictions and was given two life sentences, with the chance of parole after 40 years.


2. His Mother, Katina Smith, Had Her Sentenced Commuted by President Obama in 2015

Thomas’ on-field performance in the AFC Divisional Round this year was important. It kept the Denver Broncos’ season alive and moved the team one step closer to a Super Bowl berth. It was also the first time the wideouts’ mother was able to see him play the sport that has shaped his entire life.

How did that happen?

In July 2015, Katina was one of 46 individuals whose sentences were commuted by President Barack Obama. To celebrate her first time in the stands, Smith sported a custom jersey that read “Bay Bay’s Mama” on the back.

“Mom didn’t put any pressure on me. There wasn’t any pressure that I haven’t had here. I was just excited she was here for her first game. We came out with a win to make it even better,” Thomas said in a statement.


3. Thomas Has Two Younger Sisters


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Thomas was not the only child Smith left behind when she was convicted in 1991. In fact, at just 12 years old, Thomas was faced with the suddenly daunting task of taking care of two younger sisters, Tonecia and Tyeshia. He found a job, quickly, writing in The Players Tribune:

So I started pulling corn and pickin’ peas and butterbeans. Seriously, that was my job. I used to wake up at six in the morning and get to pullin’ before school. That’s hard work. Where I grew up, stupid situations were very easy to get into. I had a choice: the drug game, or the corn game. I kept thinking: just don’t screw up a chance to get to college. That was my light that I focused on.

Thomas was with his sisters in court when their mother was convicted. They had been playing outside when news came in of a verdict. After the trial was over, his sisters went to live with their stepfather’s mother and Demaryius left.

Still, he always dreamt of a future when they were all together. One of Thomas’ most frequent dreams was buying a house in the country in Georgia where his entire family could live, including his youngest sister, who is still in college, and his other sibling; a prison guard in the state.


4. His Father, Bobby, Spent Time in the Army After High School

Demaryius Thomas family, Demaryius Thomas father

Thomas’ father was stationed in Alabama when he found out he was going to have a child. (Instagram)

Thomas’ father, Bobby first met Katina Smith when the pair were teenagers in 1985. The two never married, Katina was just 15 years old when she gave birth to Demaryius, but the pair maintained shared custody of their son before she was arrested.

It was difficult for Bobby to be around, however. He enlisted in the Army directly after high school and was stationed at Fort Rucker in Alabama when he found out he was going to be a father. Over the next few years, Bobby lived on bases in Alabama and Virginia and was deployed to both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Still, Bobby has to admit that he is nothing short of proud of his son for everything he has dealt with from the time he was 11 years old and saw his mother and grandmother being arrested. “He handled things very well,” Thomas told the Denver Post. “He would never talk to me about it. The emotional side of it, it never comes out in front of anyone.”


5. Thomas Lived With His Aunt & Uncle, James & Shirley Brown


Demaryius "Bay-Bay" Thomas College HighlightsDemaryius Thomas, a crucial part of Georgia Tech's passing game, led the ACC in receiving yards and the nation in yards per catch.2009-11-26T23:06:53Z

After Thomas’ mother was arrested, he needed somewhere to live. He first stayed briefly with his father’s mother, but that home was too crowded. Then, he stayed with another sister of his father’s, but she wouldn’t allow him to play sports.

In the end, Thomas found a home with his Uncle James and Aunt Shirley Brown. It was strict. His Uncle James was a preacher at a local baptist church and Thomas was locked into a schedule of chores and a non-negotiable 11:30 p.m. curfew.

But, more importantly, home with the Thomas family was stable. Thomas explained his childhood, saying:

I really didn’t put myself around the wrong crowds. The only way you get in trouble around here is if you’re dealing with drugs, because there’s not much here in the country you can do besides drugs. You don’t see kids with firearms or anything like that, just mostly drugs. There were a lot of people around here you could hang with that did drugs, so you had to pick the right crew.

While growing up, Thomas’ aunt and uncle encouraged him to follow his gridiron dreams. They were there for every high school football game and throughout his career at Georgia Tech.

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