Demaryius Thomas and the Denver Broncos take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in a big game that's even bigger for Thomas: It marks the very first football game that the 28-year-old's mom will watch him play in from the stands, reports NBC 9. For every other game of his college and professional career, Katina Smith has watched her only child—the son she gave birth to at age 15—from federal prison in Florida, where she landed in 1999 on a drug trafficking conviction, reports the Denver Post. She could have copped a plea and testified against her mother, who was also arrested, notes the Post, and gotten out in two to four years. But she refused, and was sentenced to 20 years, leading to game after game watched from prison, her son's No. 88 taped to her shirt with duct tape.
Smith was among 46 prisoners whose sentences were commuted by President Obama in July; she was released Nov. 10 to a halfway house and given a 60-day ban on travel. Which brings us to Sunday's game, which she'll attend. Should Thomas snag a reception today, as he's expected to, he " won't return the football to Peyton. Demaryius will present Katina the special ball and an even more special hug," writes Woody Paige at the Post.