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Derrick Thomas

A Tragic End

Not wanting to miss the 1999 postseason, even if he could only to watch from the stands, Derrick Thomas, while driving to the Kansas City airport on January 23, 2000, was paralyzed when his truck flipped several times on the icy Interstate. He died only a few weeks later, on February 8.

Derrick Thomas was more than just a stellar athlete; he was an outstanding and giving human being. His Third and Long Foundation has helped hundreds of kids realize their educational goals and, like Thomas, over-come difficulty reading. His work off the field earned him the 1993 NFL Man of the Year.


1967 Born January 1 in Miami, Florida, to Robert James Thomas and Edith Morgan
1972 Father's plane shot down by North Vietnamese on December 17
1980 Thomas' father declared legally dead
1981 Arrested for breaking into a store and sentenced to a school for troubled kids
1984 Earns All-League honors at South Miami High School
1985 Enters Alabama on scholarship to play with Crimson Tide
1989 Drafted fourth overall by Kansas City Chiefs
1990 Sets NFL single-game sack record by sacking Seattle QB David Krieg 7 times, forcing two fumbles
1990 Establishes the Third and Long Foundation, a charitable foundation focused on encouraging children to read and pursue their educational goals
1997 Injures left triceps tendon and is out for four games; still earns spot on Pro Bowl team by end of year
1998 Suspended for a week after being penalized three times in one defensive series in a game against Denver
1999 Playing as a pass-rusher, records only seven sacks
2000 Paralyzed on January 23 in car accident near Kansas City, Missouri
2000 Dies on February 8 from cardio-respiratory arrest

The impact of Thomas' death was felt across the country, as fans mourned him for the loss of a great man as well as the tragic loss of a great football player.

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Famous Sports StarsFootballDerrick Thomas Biography - Growing Up, Roll Tide To Kansas City, Career Statistics, Awards And Accomplishments, A Tragic End