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Former NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has been posthumously diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease commonly known as CTE, his family and the Concussion Legacy Foundation announced Tuesday.
Doctors at Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center determined that Thomas – who was found dead in his Roswell, Georgia, home on Dec. 9 – had stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which has been associated with symptoms like paranoia and depression. Stage 4 is the most severe.
Thomas was just 33 years old at the time of his death, and had been retired from the NFL for less than six months.
"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," Thomas' mother, Katina Smith, said in a statement.
"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."
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MORE ON THE FORMER STAR: Super Bowl-winning receiver starred for Broncos, made five Pro Bowls
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet announced the cause and manner of Thomas' death, nor released a copy of his autopsy report. The office did not immediately reply to an email Tuesday.
Thomas' cousin, LaTonya Bonseigneur, told The Associated Press late last year that the former wide receiver had been suffering from seizures for more than a year prior to his death. She said the family believed Thomas had died after having a seizure.
According to a news release from the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which facilitated the testing of Thomas' brain, BU doctors believe the seizures were likely not associated with CTE. Family members and friends told The New York Times that Thomas started having seizures in the fall of 2020, about a year after he was involved in a serious car crash in Denver.
"He had two different conditions in parallel," Ann McKee, the director of the BU CTE Center, told the newspaper.
Thomas won one Super Bowl ring and earned five Pro Bowl nods over the course of 10 seasons in the NFL, the majority of which were spent with the Denver Broncos. He went on to have brief stints with the Houston Texans, New England Patriots and New York Jets. All told, he caught 724 passes for 9,763 yards as a pro.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Demaryius Thomas, ex-Broncos WR, had stage 2 CTE at time of death