Demaryius Thomas Mother

Published: February 9, 2016

Demaryius Thomas Mother, When the Denver Broncos made it to Super Bowl XLVIII two years ago, one of receiver Demaryius Thomas’ biggest fans was watching the game on an old television bolted to a wall in a federal prison in Florida.

But that’s how Thomas’ mother, Katina Smith, watched many of his games for 15 years, as she served a mandatory 20-year sentence, charged with conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. She had never used drugs, never sold drugs and had no criminal record; Smith was merely keeping some money in her home for her own mother, Minnie Pearl, who was charged with running a small drug ring out of an abandoned gas station near her home.

As outlined in this story by ESPN’s Eli Saslow, Smith was offered a plea deal of only four years if she testified against her mother, but she refused, electing to take her chances at trial. Despite her very small role in Pearl’s operation, the judge had no choice but to give Smith 20 years with no chance of parole, due to mandatory drug sentencing laws put in place in the late 1980s.

Against long odds, however, Smith was one of 46 non-violent federal drug offenders granted clemency by President Obama last July 13. The move by Obama was symbolic, done to mark the end of the drug war of the 80s and early 90s, and Smith fit the criteria of individuals the administration was looking for to include: she had completed a significant portion of her sentence, she had shown remorse, she had no prior criminal record, and she hadn’t had any disciplinary issues while she was in prison.

Last month, she saw her son play football from the stands, in Denver when the Broncos hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers. And while her transition out of prison has been difficult at times – Smith deals with anxiety over things big and small, as the world outside is incredibly different from the cell she lived in for 15 years.

Though she was nervous about traveling from Atlanta, where she currently lives with her sister, to San Francisco, Smith made the trip, not wanting to miss another major moment in her son’s life.

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