Demaryius Thomas' youth camp had a special guest as Larry Fitzgerald helps give kids a memory of a lifetime. All photos by Ben Swanson.
DENVER — Demaryius Thomas capped his stunning week by hosting his two-day youth camp, and he had one heck of a surprise left up his sleeve for the 400 children who joined him at Mullen High School.
While Thomas caught passes, threw long balls, and ran a blocking drill with campers, eight-time Pro Bowl Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald snuck into the back of the crowd, somehow going unnoticed in an electric neon yellow shirt.
"He's always been very good to me, coming to my event every year," Fitzgerald said of how this came together, "I wanted to come out here and support him with his. He's a great ambassador and I'm really happy for him and happy to see him have the success and it all pay off for him this week, too."
After a week in which Thomas' mother had her prison sentence commuted by President Obama and Thomas signed a five-year contract, he was able to relax and have fun with some of his biggest fans, including one fan who said he has been a fan of Thomas since he was zero years old.
A camp like this has special meaning to Thomas because not only does it offer him the chance to impact the lives of young children who look up to him, but because he wasn't able to get an experience like this when he was boy. Plus, it's just a ton of fun for him.
"It means a lot," Thomas said. "I think when you come out here and have fun, they meet people they've never met before. Not necessarily me, but they've got coaches they can talk to and have fun with. It's amazing. I like to come out and have fun, burn a couple calories. I think it's my favorite thing to do—besides playing football, of course—but just to come out and interact and just have fun."
It also meant a lot for him to have a dear friend in Fitzgerald to make the trip to Denver to support him and the kids.
"If you get to know Demaryius, he's very quiet but getting to know him over the years, he's been an unbelievable friend: supportive, always involved in the community aspect," Fitzgerald said. "Every time I ask him to help me with something, he's always been there for me and I'm just so happy for him. He's worked his entire career to get to this position, to put his team in the playoffs, to finally be rewarded and I couldn't be happier for him."
Though the campers enjoyed getting the one-on-one instruction in drills with their team coaches, it's hard to imagine that getting in some plays with Thomas or Fitzgerald during 7-on-7 games wasn't the main highlight, even if Thomas might have intercepted a pass or two. But it's not all about football at Thomas' camp.
"I think the main thing is hard work will pay off and I like to say to a lot of kids, 'Be respectful,'" Thomas said. "'Listen to your parents. Listen to your coaches. They're not going to lead you the wrong way. You're young; you've got a lot of living to do. And like I said, hard work gets A's. Ain't nothing wrong with B's, because I had a couple, but A's and B's will take you a long way. If you don't want to play football, you want to do something else with your career, I think the main thing is just being respectful, stay humble and just live and learn.'"