Peyton & Ashley Manning's foundation announced a scholarship in Demaryius Thomas' name. The Broncos managing editor for DenverBroncos.com released the statements below.
From Ben Swanson
Managing Editor, DenverBroncos.com
In memory of Demaryius Thomas, Broncos Ring of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning has announced that through his PeyBack Foundation, he and his wife, Ashley, have endowed a scholarship at Georgia Tech in Thomas' name.
"Demaryius Thomas was an incredibly talented and unselfish teammate, but more importantly, he was a special person and friend," Manning said. "My family and I miss him dearly, and we wanted to honor D.T.'s memory by partnering the PeyBack Foundation with Georgia Tech to establish the Demaryius A. Thomas Scholarship Endowment.
"An important part of Demaryius' legacy was the way he inspired the next generation to pursue their dreams with the same perseverance and determination that defined him. Through this scholarship to Georgia Tech, Demaryius will have a lasting impact on deserving youth from his hometown area who can follow in his footsteps and accomplish great things in life."
Thomas, who passed away in December at the age of 33, was one of the Broncos' more remarkable people the franchise had ever seen.
As a receiver, he recorded the second-most receiving yards in franchise history and was responsible for some of its most memorable plays, like the game-winning catch-and-run against the Steelers in the 2011 wild-card round. He also was responsible for the catch that put Manning atop the record books for most career passing touchdowns.
And few of Manning's teammates grew as close to him as Thomas, who was on the team for the entire duration of Manning's stint in Denver. From the beginning of that run, the two worked closely to build chemistry on the field, and over the next four years, they won a Super Bowl together and became dear friends.
As a Denver resident, Thomas also left a lasting impact on the community, particularly at the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club, and he had an uncanny ability to connect with children because of a quick smile and playful personality.
"The Demaryius A. Thomas Scholarship Endowment will endow academic scholarships to attend Georgia Tech for incoming freshmen students from Laurens County, Ga., where Thomas was born and raised, or surrounding areas who demonstrate significant financial need," Georgia Tech athletics wrote in a press release.
In addition, Georgia Tech athletics announced that it will celebrate an annual Demaryius Thomas Day on Aug. 8, which was picked as a way to honor the uniform numbers he wore for the Yellow Jackets and the Broncos: 8/8. Thomas wore No. 8 at Georgia Tech and No. 88 in Denver. On that date, the football team will recognize the Georgia Tech player or players who are selected to wear the No. 8 jersey that season.
"Other 8/8 festivities will include Georgia Tech athletics recognizing the Thomas Scholarship recipient and partnering with a local youth-oriented organization for a community service event, as well as a friend, teammate and/or family member being invited to speak to the Yellow Jackets' football student-athletes," Georgia Tech wrote in its release.
During the upcoming football season, Georgia Tech will also recognize Thomas' legacy with a No. 8 helmet decal and logo painted on the field at the Yellow Jackets' home games.
"We are grateful to Peyton and Ashley Manning and the PeyBack Foundation for establishing the Demaryius Thomas Scholarship," Georgia Tech director of athletics Todd Stansbury said in the release. "Thanks to their generous contribution, Demaryius' legacy will be carried on through Georgia Tech students from Laurens County and surrounding areas for years to come and his memory will be celebrated each year during our 8/8 Day recognitions."