The Important Person Demaryius Thomas Is Playing For Today

February 7th 2016

Ingrid Holmquist

When Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas last played in the Super Bowl two years ago, his biggest fan wasn't watching from a stadium seat.

Thomas's mother, Katina Smith, watched from inside a federal prison in Florida, where she was serving a 20-year minimum sentence for narcotics trafficking.

Smith had been in jail since 1999, when Thomas was 11, and was supposed to remain there until 2017. But she will be able to cheer for her son in person in today's Super Bowl, having been freed last July when President Barack Obama commuted her sentence and those of 45 other non-violent federal drug offenders.

Smith and her mother, Minnie Pearl, received life sentences for drug trafficking. Pearl was charged with operating a small cocaine ring in Georgia. But Smith had reportedly “never used drugs, never sold drugs, and had no criminal record.” She was charged only because she was holding onto money for her mother. She received the lengthy sentence because she "refused to testify against her own mother," according to The Washington Post.

Because of mandatory drug sentencing laws, the judge put the hammer down.

Smith had completed a significant portion of her sentence, had shown remorse, had no prior criminal record, and hadn’t had any disciplinary issues while in prison, Yahoo Sports reported. This made her the perfect candidate to be released under the president’s clemency action.

Now, Smith will watch her son from the Super Bowl stands. Thomas will take the field tonight knowing that his biggest fan will be in the stadium for the first time in his career.