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Peyton Manning announces annual '18 to 88' scholarship to benefit local high school athletes in Demaryius Thomas' memory


DENVER — Ring of Fame Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame have partnered to fund a scholarship in honor of the late Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

Manning announced the "18 to 88" scholarship grant, which will be awarded to a local high school senior athlete who has overcome some form of adversity. The $10,000 grant will be awarded annually at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame banquet following a nomination process that will include high school coaches.

"I'm incredibly proud, along with our PeyBack Foundation to partner with the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame to create the '18 to 88' scholarship grant to honor the life and legacy of my friend Demaryius Thomas," Manning said Wednesday. "… D.T. was a special teammate and special person. On the field, he was the most unselfish person and teammate I ever played with. He always put the team before himself. He also was a great, great man off the field. He was a hero to my kids like he was to so many others, and he made a tremendous impact on this community. None of what Demaryius Thomas accomplished in his life — all-conference wide receiver at Georgia Tech, first-round NFL Draft pick, five-time Pro Bowler, NFL champion — came easily. He overcame great adversity throughout his childhood and grew up to become a role model for others. It's only fitting that this '18 to 88' scholarship will identify and reward annually a Denver high school athlete who, like Demaryius, has overcome adversity to accomplish their goals."

Manning recently endowed a scholarship at Georgia Tech to benefit students from Thomas' hometown, but he wanted to also recognize his former teammate's impact in Colorado.

"I wanted to do something for him in Denver where he made his mark as an NFL player and had such a big impact on this community," Manning said. "… [We're] trying to keep Demaryius' legacy alive, but also paying it forward, which is what he was all about."

Thomas passed away suddenly in December at the age of 33. The long-time Bronco finished second in nearly every receiving statistic in franchise history. Perhaps more importantly, Thomas was instrumentally involved in the Denver community, particularly as a staple at the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club.

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