Former NFL star and Georgia native remembered for his generosity off the field

ATLANTA — Former NFL star and Georgia native Demaryius Thomas is being remembered for his generosity off the field, on the day that researchers and family revealed he died while suffering from stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

“His generosity is something like I’ve never seen before,” said Amber Woolfolk, who worked with Thomas through her nonprofit, Solve Tutoring.

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Woolfolk met the former Georgia Tech standout in 2020 at a social justice rally. From there, he donated to help tutor student-athletes in Roswell. He also gave gifts to single parents and their kids on the holidays and helped struggling families in Clayton County throughout the year.

“It was written on his face and he had this huge smile that you can never forget,” said Woolfolk. “Once you have an experience with Demaryius, like, he was just a happy person.”

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When he wasn’t helping others, family members noticed that his behavior was changing rapidly.

Boston University researchers revealed Tuesday he had the degenerative brain disease CTE when he died in December.

His parents told ABC News that Thomas would tell them he didn’t feel right.

“He was paranoid all the time, but memory loss, I saw that as well,” said Bobby Thomas, his father. “Every single day he complained about having a headache.”

Thomas’s family said he died from a seizure stemming from a 2019 car wreck.

“If it weren’t for those seizures, he would have went back playing football,” said Bobby Thomas.

Woolfolk said Thomas told her that he knew he may have had CTE but that he wanted to focus on helping others.

“He always would do what he said he was going to do,” she said. “So if you didn’t hear from him you knew something was wrong.”

She said her nonprofit Solve Tutoring relied on his yearly donations but she’s trying to keep it afloat because it’s what he worked with her to build.

“He was a rare treasure,” she said. “Period.”

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