The 2015-2016 football season was a happy one for Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, for a lot of reasons. Not only did the Broncos win Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers, but Thomas’ mother, Katrina Smith, was finally able to watch her son play football for the first time after President Obama commuted her prison sentence in July, 2015.
Now, a year later, the world of Demaryius Thomas has been changed for the better once again — his grandmother, Minnie Pearl Thomas, was one of 214 prisoners to be granted clemency by President Obama this week, after spending 16 years in prison on non-violent drug charges.
In an attempt to rectify the draconian federal sentences handed out to non-violent drug offenders brought about by the U.S.’ failed “War on Drugs,” President Obama has commuted the overly harsh sentences of more prisoners than the last nine presidents combined, according to the White House website. Luckily for Demaryius Thomas, both his mother and grandmother were two of the 562 men and women granted clemency during Obama’s presidency.
Minnie Pearl Thomas and Katrina Smith were arrested in the 1990s for their involvement in a cocaine ring, according to Yahoo Sports. Thomas was given life in prison for cocaine trafficking, while Smith was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her involvement, which only included holding a small amount of money in her house for her mother — despite having no prior record and no history of drug use. Smith was offered a plea deal that would have given her a sentence of just four years in prison if she testified against her mother, but she refused.
After their Super Bowl win, the Broncos were invited to the White House to celebrate their victory, as is the usual custom for Super Bowl champs. At the meeting with President Obama, Demaryius Thomas handed the president a handwritten note thanking him for releasing his mother, which allowed her to see him play football for the first time. The note also mentioned Thomas’ grandmother, in the hopes that she, too, would be granted clemency by Obama before his presidency ended.
Following her release from prison, Katrina Smith created a petition on Change.org to help campaign for her mother’s release. The petition, in which Smith stated that she and her mother had learned from their mistakes, garnered nearly 40,000 signatures.
“My mom and I made mistakes by getting involved with drugs. We regret it and have each paid dearly for it. But neither of us deserved the long sentences we received.”
When Thomas got word that his grandmother had been one of the 214 prisoners to be recently freed by President Obama, he said he was in shock, but was so thankful for all that President Obama has done for his family, reports USA Today.
“I was surprised. I was excited, too, that it came this early. I heard 200-plus people to have a second chance. For my grandmother to be one of them is a blessing. I’m super excited.
“I don’t really know what to say. I just want to talk to my granny. I haven’t talked to her in a couple of weeks. I’m excited for her. She was sad when mom left. She used to cry when she was in there by herself. I’m just excited for her and I want to thank Obama for all that he’s done for her and everybody else.”
Minnie Pearl Thomas is set to be released from federal prison on December 1, thanks to President Obama. Her release will come just in time to spend the holiday season with her beloved grandson, Demaryius Thomas, and perhaps even see him and the Broncos play in Super Bowl 51.
[Photo by AP Photo/David Zalubowski]