The medical examiner in Fulton County, Ga.
Thomas died on December 9 at his home in Roswell, Georgia, less than six months after retiring from the NFL at the age of 33.
In July, doctors at Boston University who examined Thomas’ brain found he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive blows to the head. The disease, which can only be diagnosed after death, does not cause death. Doctors said they believe Thomas’ seizures were caused by a 2019 car accident in which his head broke a windshield and a hydraulic rescue tool was needed to remove him from the car.
Dr. Ann Mackie, a neuropathologist who examined Thomas’ brain, said it was very unlikely that CTE would have caused his seizures, and that Thomas likely died of asphyxiation after a seizure.
While Thomas’ cause of death has been officially established, Bertram Ennett, a detective with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office, said how he died remains undetermined.
Thomas’ driver found him lying in the bathroom at his home, according to Bobby Thomas, Demarius’ father.
Bobby Thomas and other family and friends said that Demarius Thomas’ seizures became more frequent and appeared in the last year of his life. They attacked without or without warning and led Thomas to smash other cars and fall down steps.
At the same time, he suffered from some conditions associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, including amnesia, paranoia, and isolation. Those close to him said his behavior became increasingly erratic, and he went long distances without leaving his home or answering calls and texts.
Thomas dealt with headaches during his NFL career, which began in 2010 when he was drafted into the first round of Georgia Tech. At Super Bowl 50, which concluded the 2015 season, Thomas was offset by Carolina Panthers midfielder Luke Kuechly during the match and had such severe headaches that he missed most of the party following the Broncos’ win.
In 2019, Thomas was driving at 70 mph in a 30 mph zone in Denver when he lost control and flipped his car several times.
Thomas returned to play the 2019 season, his final season, with the Jets, appearing in 11 games. He continued training in 2020, but stopped training mid-year due to the increased frequency of his bouts. He sat that season and officially retired in June 2021.
Thomas played 10 seasons in the NFL, with the Broncos, Houston Texans, and Jets, collecting 724 passes for 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns.
in Video announcing his retirementThomas said he is still deciding what to do next and looks forward to building relationships with anyone who can help.
“It is not easy to leave football,” he said. “Because that’s the main thing for me, just trying to find oneself and put out love.”