By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) – Ask Stan Solano who his favorite Denver Broncos player of the last 10 years is, and he won’t hesitate to tell you it is Demaryius Thomas. Solano, like thousands of others, went to Sunday’s game early to mourn and remember the Bronco great who died at the age of just 33.

“He’s probably the best receiver we ever had,” he said.

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He joined others at a memorial set up by the team.

“I feel really sad for him,” said Solano as he choked back tears.

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Kaysen Nightpipe is just 12 years old, but he is still feeling a sense of loss.

“For him to pass so soon it was just really like heartbreaking for me,” said Nightpipe.

He was a youngster when Demaryius played for the team, but even back then he knew there was something special about number 88.

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“He was the first Denver football player that I knew the name of, and ever since then I said, ‘This guy is going to be my favorite football player,’” said Nightpipe.

Emma and Beverley Morgan say they, too, were huge Demaryius Thomas fans. Not only for the way he played, but also because of what he went through while achieving NFL stardom.

They say they also grew up without a mother in their lives. Demaryius’ mother, Katina Smith, spent many years of his life in prison. Her sentence was commuted in 2016. She and Demaryius were able to have a relationship until his death.

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Beverly and Emma are saddened that he was taken from her just a few years after she came back into his life.

“I’m sending my condolences and prayers to his family and the whole Denver organization,” said Emma.

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While all Broncos fans always want Denver to win, they say win or lose, the game of football will never be the same without Demaryius Thomas.

“He played good for us for 10 years,” said Solano. “I loved every game he played in.”

Michael Abeyta