President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 214 prisoners on Wednesday. According to Fox News, it was the “largest batch of commutations on a single day in more than a century.” Nearly every one of those inmates were serving time for drug-related crimes, with 67 people facing life sentences. One of those 67 individuals was Demaryius Thomas’s grandmother Minnie Pearl Thomas.
Back in 1999, Thomas’s mother Katina Smith and grandmother were arrested for drug trafficking when the Denver Broncos star wide receiver was just 11 years old. Katina was given more than 24 years, while a life sentence was handed down to Minnie Pearl. Last year, President Obama commuted the sentences of Thomas’s mother and 45 other people who “already served their time and returned to society if they were convicted of the exact same crime today.”
Following the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 victory over the Carolina Panthers, the team made the obligatory visit to the White House in June. Thomas used the opportunity to deliver a handwritten note, thanking him for commuting his mother’s sentence. During their conversation, Obama brought up Demaryius’s grandmother.
“I still remember when we were at the White House,” Thomas said, per the Denver Post. “I was talking about my mom and saying thank you, and the fact that he mentioned my grandmother, I knew something was going to happen… I’m happy. I’m excited. In the past two years, I’ve got my grandmother and my mother out.”
After 16 years in prison, Minnie Pearl is scheduled to be released on Dec. 1, and Thomas could not be more grateful to President Obama for giving his mother and grandmother a second chance.