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Demaryius Thomas' parents are sharing more details about his death.
Seven months after the NFL star was found unresponsive in his Roswell, Ga. home, his parents, Bobby Thomas and Katina Stuckey Smith, revealed that his death was caused by cardiac arrest from a seizure disorder.
"Cardiac arrest, you know, is the way that they're trying to say what kinda happened to him," Bobby said in a July 5 interview with Good Morning America, adding that Demaryius "suffocated—he died."
Bobby and Katina said they learned these details after donating his brain to research. Through this process, they also found out that Demaryius suffered from Stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head trauma that is commonly found in athletes, according to the Mayo Clinic. The rare disorder can cause memory loss, difficulty thinking, changes in behavior, mood swings and more symptoms.
Demaryius' parents said he was experiencing similar symptoms before his death.
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"He was paranoid, like, all the time," Bobby recalled. "But memory loss, I saw that, as well. Every single day, he complained about having a headache."
Katina explained that her son's "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,'" she added. "And he said, 'I don't feel like myself anymore.'"
The former Denver Broncos wide receiver started to experience seizures after retiring from the NFL in 2021, following 10 years with the league, his parents said.
"He would shake so much, like, he couldn't breathe," Bobby told GMA. "You could hear him say, 'tch-tch-tch-tch,' like the wind tryin' to come out. They got to the point where he was havin' three or four back to back. If it wasn't for those seizures, he woulda went back playin' football."
While Katina and Bobby now have some answers on their son's tragic passing, it wasn't easy making the choice to donate Demaryius' brain to research.
"I didn't wanna do it," his mom recalled. "I was against it. 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.'"
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