The family of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas says that their loved one had stage 2 CTE at the time of his death, NBC News reports. CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has been found in other athletes following their careers in the professional league.
Thomas was found dead in his Georgia home in December. His mother, Katrina Smith, said that her son began to change prior to his death. According to her, a big alteration was isolation. The Concussion Legacy Foundation revealed that progressive behavior, along with mood and cognitive abnormalities, are all linked to stage 2 of the condition.
In the most recent years, Thomas suffered from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, as well as issues with his memory, said the foundation in a news 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,” Smith said in a statement. “We don’t want other parents to have to lose their children like we did.”
“When will athletes, parents and the public at large stop ignoring the risks of American football and insist that the game be changed to reduce subconcussive hits and that the athletes be comprehensively evaluated at the beginning and end of every season,” McKee continued in the statement. Thomas was diagnosed with CTE after his family agreed to donate his brain to the center.
Will Smith’s 2015 film Concussion detailed the battle that Nigerian-born pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu endured when attempting to raise awareness about CTE. He began to closely follow the condition after conducting an autopsy on former NFL player Mike Webster. According to him, the sport of football was “almost like child abuse” for parents allowing children to play under the age of 18.