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Study says Central Georgia native, NFL star Demaryius Thomas had Stage 2 brain trauma

The Concussion Legacy Foundation report doesn't say how Thomas died, but says CTE victims often suffer neurological damage

LAURENS COUNTY, Ga. — Former NFL wide receiver and Central Georgia native Demaryius Thomas had stage 2 CTE when he died in December at the age of 33.

His family released the findings of his brain study through the Concussion Legacy Foundation. 

The foundation arranged the brain donation to help raise awareness for CTE -- the condition caused by concussions that affects hundreds of former NFL playlers.

There are 4 stages of CTE, with four being associated with dementia. 

The report doesn't say how Thomas died, but says CTE victims typically suffer mood swings and other problems like the ones Thomas suffered.

“Once I became aware of CTE and began to familiarize myself with the symptoms, I noticed that Demaryius was isolating himself and I saw other changes in him,” said Katina Smith, Demaryius’ mother in a release. “He was just so young, and it was horrible to see him struggle. His father and I hope all families learn the risks of playing football. We don’t want other parents to have to lose their children like we did.”

The symptoms of Stage 2 CTE include progressive behavior as well as cognitive and mood abnormalities. Before his death, Thomas dealt with depression, anxiety, panic attacks and trouble with his memory.  More than 300 former NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE. 

“The football community would have no idea why so many former players struggle with neurological disorders after their career without the families who say yes to brain donation,”  said Dr. Nowinski, a former football player at Harvard University. “I hope this is a wake-up call to high-profile current and former NFL players that CTE is rampant among them, and they need to get involved in creating real solutions. CTE should be their number one off-the-field issue.”

People around the world knew Thomas as a great athlete, but to people in Laurens County and West Laurens High School, he was "Bay Bay.."

He was a standout at West Laurens before he starred at Georgia Tech. Thomas was a first-round pick in the 2010 draft to the Denver Broncos.

He played 10 seasons in the NFL for the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, and Houston Texans. Thomas resume included making four Pro Bowls and winning Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos. 

His cause of death is not currently known but early speculation is his death may be related to an epileptic seizure. Typically epilepsy is associated with late-stage CTE but it is believed Thomas developed post-traumatic epilepsy from a car accident and fall in the years before his death. 

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Central Georgia native, Denver Broncos great Demaryius Thomas dies at 33

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