DENVER — A Celebration of Life for Demaryius Thomas will be held Monday at his alma mater Georgia Tech University in Atlanta.
The event, which will be held at Tech’s basketball arena, McCamish Pavilion, will begin at 2 p.m. EST and be closed to the public and media at the family's request. Tim Flynn, Georgia Tech's assistant athletic director and sports information director, said there was no hesitation on the school's part when it came to making their basketball arena available for Thomas' celebration, which figures to draw several hundred.
"Absolutely, he's part of our family,'' Flynn told 9News.
The Broncos will send by private plane a contingent of nearly 40 people that will include current players, staff and former Thomas teammates who live in the Denver area. The Broncos group will fly out Monday morning and return Monday night.
"It speaks volumes about the leadership there,'' said former Bronco receiver Brandon Stokley, a teammate of D.T.'s in 2010 and 2012. "It's obviously something they didn't have to do. It makes me feel proud to have played for that organization and see how they handled the situation with the tributes last Sunday and how they're going about this. A lot of us wouldn't be able to make it down there if it wasn't for the Broncos inviting us."
Thomas was found dead in a shower of his Roswell, Ga. home on the evening of Dec. 9. He was to turn 34 on Christmas Day.
"I was very honored and humbled when Patrick (Smyth, the Broncos' public relations' boss) called and invited me and said they would have room for me on the plane if I'd like to come,'' said former Broncos' offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus, D.T.'s teammate during Denver's 2015 Super Bowl 50 season. "It took me 2 seconds to say 'yes.' I would have been there no matter what. Demaryius has been a really, really tough deal.
"I was close to D.T. We weren't best friends by any means but we had a lot of deep, life conversations. His passing, it just crushed me. The time he gave to my family, my son, it was just so easy and genuine and authentic for him. I absolutely would be there no matter what but the fact the Broncos called to include me, it really meant a lot to me.''
D.T.'s two Super Bowl coaches, John Fox and Gary Kubiak, will also attend the ceremony.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy on Thomas on Dec. 10. The office said the full autopsy report typically takes 90 business days.
Thomas spent four years at Georgia Tech, redshirting his first season of 2006 when eventual Pro Football Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson was the Yellow Jackets’ star receiver.
Thomas became the school’s top receiver in 2008-09. Even though coach Paul Johnson ran a run-heavy, “flexbone option” offense, Thomas had 46 catches (the team’s second-leading receiver had 8 catches) for 1,154 yards and a whopping 25.1 yards per catch as a junior in 2009, a dominant performance that helped make him a Broncos’ first-round pick in the 2010 draft.
In Thomas’ 8 ½-seasons with the Broncos, he became the franchise’s second-leading receiver to Rod Smith in receiving yards (9,055) and touchdowns (60) while finishing third to Smith and Shannon Sharpe with 665 receptions.
Thomas was a four-time Pro Bowler who in the five-year period from 2012-16 averaged 98.4 catches for 1,374 yards and 9.2 touchdowns.
"I was just so proud to see what he was able to accomplish,'' Stokley said. "I was there his rookie year and came back a couple years later and that was the year he really took off when Peyton got there. And to see him get the kind of recognition we all knew he had in him. He had that type of potential and he went out there and worked for it and achieved it.''
Prior to Thomas’ Celebration of Life, his memorial service will be held Saturday at the gymnasium of his alma mater high school, West Laurens.
The Broncos planned D.T.’s celebration in cooperation with members of Thomas’ family, sports agency, the NFL and Georgia Tech.
"I think one quality Demaryius had is anyone who knew him felt like they were his best friend,'' Polumbus said. "The time we did spend together in the building was getting to know what was going on in our lives with my family, with my kids and his background and getting to learn where he came from. It made you understand why he was so generous with his time and why you could see him come to life with kids.
"Looking back at it now, as big a superstar as D.T. was, he never once missed an opportunity to give back to the community. It makes you reflect on your own self and opportunities we have and makes you want to say, 'I never want to say 'no' to anything moving forward. Because if a guy of his superstar status could say 'yes' to everything, certainly we all can say 'yes' more than we do."
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