ROSWELL, Ga. — Georgia Tech head football coach Geoff Collins woke up early Friday morning just as he normally does, but this time his routine started off differently.
He took a moment, he said, to scroll through old text messages from his dear friend Demaryius Thomas.
Authorities said Thomas, known by many as Bay Bay, was found dead in his home in Roswell, Georgia. The former Georgia Tech and Denver Broncos star was just 33 years old.
“We’re all thinking of him, and I just known the whole fan base, and Denver Broncos fan base and everybody, everybody that knew Bay Bay loved him," Collins said. "He was one of the most genuine, well-meaning people I’ve ever been around.”
He said he's had the chance know him through different phases of his life -- when Thomas was a Georgia Tech recruit, a player, as a NFL Pro Bowler, and now as a friend.
Losing him also means losing the light he exudes when he walks into a room.
"It is heartbreaking and it hurts," Collins said.
Collins will hold on to fond memories he shares with Thomas, including the moments they had at one of the restaurants he said the player loved to visit, The Capital Grille. It's also a place Collins plans to go this weekend. He said often for an official visit weekend -- which so happens to be this week --- many of the recruits gather at the restaurant.
"Invariable like we did when Bay Bay was being recruited, we go to Capital Grille on Saturday night," he said. "And that was one of his favorite meals, favorite experiences."
“I still remember when we had a drink to this day, when I was the recruiting coordinator and director of player personnel back in 2006 and now the head coach for the last three years, whenever we go to Capital Grille, they take all the fruit punches they have and they would mix it up in all this drink – non-alcoholic drink – and we would call it a Bay Bay and it’s just a collection of all their fruit juices," he said.
Collins added every time they go, their waitress serves the drink to recruits and they make a big deal about how special Thomas was.
"I know tomorrow night when we go to Capital Grille, that’s probably gonna be the toughest because I have such fond memories of being there with him," he said.
He wants everyone to remember Thomas as the loving, vibrant, caring person he was. Collins said Thomas was a man who didn't meet a stranger and made friends with everyone. He wants his players to take away Thomas' energy and positive attitude.
“That’s who Bay Bay is. He made a huge impact in my life and I’ll love him forever," Collins said.
The medical examiner's office said autopsy results are still pending, though police believe the death was related to a medical issue and do not suspect foul play.