Earlier this year, Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas spoke with Rolling Stone about his plans to turn three consecutive Pro Bowl seasons into a sizeable payday – and though he was preparing for NFL free agency, he had other things on his mind: Namely, his mother, who was serving a 24-year prison sentence on drug trafficking charges.
"Hopefully, this year my mom will at least get out and get in a halfway house and come home," he said. "My main thing is trying to get her out of prison, and whatever the contract is, of course it will help."
Thomas' mother, Katina Smith, was arrested when he was 11 years old when police raided his home in Montrose, Georgia, and was serving time at a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida. Smith was scheduled to be released in 2017 – but on Monday, she was one of 46 people whose sentences were commuted by President Barack Obama, a result of the Justice Department’s clemency initiative, and the largest single act of executive clemency since the 1960s.
"Their punishments didn't fit the crime, and if they had been sentenced under today's laws, nearly all of them would have served their time," Obama said in a video posted on the White House website. "I believe that at its heart, America is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve a second chance."
According to the White House, all 46 men and women – the majority of whom served decades in prison for non-violent drug offenses – will be released from prison by November 10. On Monday, an overjoyed Thomas posted an image of his mother to his Facebook page, along with a message: "God is good. Great news today, my best lady [is] com[ing] home."