DENVER (CBS4) — Former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning recognized his former teammate, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas by putting future college-bound Colorado high school athletes in position to score a $10,000 grant.

Manning, speaking at Wednesday night’s induction dinner for the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, announced the “18 to 88” scholarship. Manning’s PeyBack Foundation and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame created the grant to honor the life and legacy of Thomas, Manning said.

Peyton Manning speaking at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame banquet Wednesday night. (credit: Gabriel Christus/Denver Broncos)

The grant will be awarded annually to a local high school senior athlete who has overcome some form of adversity.

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“‘D.T.’ was a special teammate and special person,” Manning said. “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.”

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Thomas passed away at the age of 33 in December.

Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas of the Broncos appeals to the referee for a touchdown call after making a catch on the edge of the end zone against the Seahawks at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on Sept. 9, 2018. The catch was ruled a touchdown. (credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

“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.”

A Denver Broncos fan wipes her eye after the tribute to the late former Denver Broncos player Demaryius Thomas before the game between the Detroit Lions and the Denver Broncos at Empower Field At Mile High on December 12. (credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

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According to the Denver Broncos, 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.

(credit: A Precious Child)

Thomas played eight seasons with the Broncos after the team selected him in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. He caught balls thrown by Manning for half of his Bronco career (2012-15), culminating in the team’s 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

Ed McCaffrey, Carol Callan, Chuck Williams, Darnell McDonald, Roger Kinney and DaVarryl Williamson were inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Wednesday night. Manning was inducted in 2018.

Both men were inducted into the team’s Ring Of Fame at Mile High Stadium last year, Thomas posthumously.


Logan Smith