DENVER — Demaryius Thomas was capable of many things. Quitting wasn't one of them.
He was a child when his mother and grandmother were sent to prison on drug charges.
That didn't stop him from going to Georgia Tech on a scholarship.
Friends, former teammates and those who knew Thomas say he had a smile and laugh that could light up a room.
Thomas just had a way about him. A swagger. A smile. A connection with kids.
"He would get down on their level, sit with them, talk with them," said Courtney Wickberg, communications director for A Precious Child in Westminster.
That’s where Thomas volunteered a lot of his time during his nine years in Denver, helping children and families in need with toys, school supplies, clothes and food.
"He's not only an amazing football player, but the thing that touched us and the kids was that he was so intentional with the time that he spent with us," Wickberg said. “It's easy to smile for a picture, but he would really connect because he understood what it meant to be a child in need"
Fans outside Empower Field at Mile High on Friday, reacting to the devastating news of his death.
“Demaryius Thomas has kind of been my idol ever since I can remember," said 12-year-old Kaysen Nightpipe, who is visiting Denver this weekend from South Dakota with his family who is planning to attend the Broncos-Lions game this Sunday.
“It's tough, man,” said Kaysen’s dad, Justin, as he started to choke up about DT’s death. “It's tough. I watched him play in the Tim Tebow era."
“I’ve been a season ticket holder for 15 years and we were at the playoff game when he caught the pass from Tebow,” said Broncos fan Jeff Donahue. “It was shocking to hear that we lost him.”
“Everything you hear about the guy, he was just a class act,” said Jay DeCann who is visiting from North Dakota. “You always just had a sense that he was a good guy, even though I didn’t know him.”
On Stokley and Zach on 104.3 The Fan, DT’s former teammates, like Brandon Stokley, remembered what a great football player Demaryius was.
“Right when you catch it, that back foot should tap down,” Stokley said. “And he always said he learned that from me. That always meant a lot to me."
"Honestly, one of the 25 greatest players in the history of the franchise,” said James Merilatt. “I mean, you can't tell the history of the Broncos without mentioning Demaryius Thomas."
DT. An athlete. A celebrity ambassador. An asset to the community gone to soon.
"Look what he did for the community,” Justin Nightpipe said. “The work he did with the Boys and Girls Club of Denver. He gave back."
“He really understood where the kids that we deal with are coming from," Wickberg said.