Demaryius Thomas Suffered From Stage 2 CTE, Death Was Caused By Seizure

NFL: Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

According to a statement made on Tuesday by Boston University physicians, former NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain illness related to repetitive hits to the head.

Thomas was discovered lifeless in his shower in December 2021 at the age of 33 years old, but the reasons of his death remained unknown, until now.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Thomas’ parents revealed that he had Stage 2 CTE and died as a result of a different epilepsy illness that caused cardiac arrest.

A member of the Boston University research team, Neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee, told ABC News, “CTE itself does not cause death. You don’t die from CTE. What CTE does is it changes your behavior and your personality.”

Just last week it was announced that former MLS player Scott Vermillion, who died on December 25, 2020, at the age of 44, also had Stage 2 CTE after doctors from Boston University studied his brain.

Vermillion is the first documented professional soccer player to have CTE.

Thomas’ father, Bobby Thomas, said they started to see a different sort of pain in the last year of his life.

“He was paranoid, like, all the time. But memory loss, I saw that, as well. Every single day, he complained about having a headache,” Bobby Thomas told ABC News.

Demaryius’ mother, Katina Stuckey Smith, would agree with his father, and also told ABC News, “His mood would change, and he would also isolate himself sometimes. [Demaryius] would tell me, he was like, ‘Mom, I don’t know what’s goin’ on with my body. I gotta get myself together.’ And he said, ‘I don’t feel like myself anymore.'”

CTE is exactly what it sounds like. A darkness that you couldn’t imagine. McKee told ABC News, “But the truth is, we don’t have any specific treatment for CTE at this time — these guys suffer in silence and they have a lot of trouble finding anyone in the medical professional field who actually knows what’s going on, it’s an invisible injury.”

Dr. McKee told ABC News that she believes they will be able to detect CTE in living athletes within five years, which could change the game on how athletes manage and treat the symptoms.