Peyton and Ashley Manning’s PeyBack Foundation establishes Demaryius Thomas scholarship at Georgia Tech

Peyton and Ashley Manning’s PeyBack Foundation has created an annual need-based scholarship for Georgia Tech students in memory of the Yellow Jackets legend and Manning’s former teammate, Demaryius Thomas.

Georgia Tech and the PeyBack Foundation announced the scholarship Wednesday morning.

The Demaryius A. Thomas Scholarship Endowment will endow academic scholarships to attend Georgia Tech for incoming freshman students from Laurens County, Georgia, where Thomas was born and raised, or surrounding areas who demonstrate significant financial need.

“Demaryius Thomas was an incredibly talented and unselfish teammate, but more importantly, he was a special person and friend,” Peyton Manning said, per the school’s release. “My family and I miss him dearly, and we wanted to honor D.T.’s memory by partnering the PeyBack Foundation with Georgia Tech to establish the Demaryius A. Thomas Scholarship Endowment.

“An important part of Demaryius’ legacy was the way he inspired the next generation to pursue their dreams with the same perseverance and determination that defined him. Through this scholarship to Georgia Tech, Demaryius will have a lasting impact on deserving youth from his hometown area who can follow in his footsteps and accomplish great things in life.”

In honor of the establishment of the scholarship, Georgia Tech athletics also announced that August 8 (8/8) of each year will be recognized as Demaryius Thomas Day. Thomas wore the No. 8 jersey during his career at Georgia Tech and sported No. 88 for the majority of his NFL career. Festivities on Demaryius Thomas Day will include Tech football recognizing the student-athlete(s) chosen to wear jersey No. 8, recognizing the Thomas Scholarship recipient and inviting a friend, teammate or family member of Thomas’ to speak to the Yellow Jackets’ student-athletes.

“We are grateful to Peyton and Ashley Manning and the PeyBack Foundation for establishing the Demaryius Thomas Scholarship,” Georgia Tech director of athletics Todd Stansbury said. “Thanks to their generous contribution, Demaryius’ legacy will be carried on through Georgia Tech students from Laurens County and surrounding areas for years to come and his memory will be celebrated each year during our 8/8 Day recognitions.”

Thomas played three seasons for Georgia Tech from 2007-2009, recording 113 receptions, 2,135 yards and 13 touchdowns. He joined the Broncos as the No. 22 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Thomas amassed 724 receptions, 9,763 yards and 63 TDs over his 10-year professional career. 36 of those touchdowns came on passes form Manning. The pair won Super Bowl XLVII together in Manning’s final season.

Thomas was known at Georgia Tech and in the NFL for his work in the community, particularly with youth initiatives. He died suddenly on Dec. 9, 2021 at the age of 33. His memorial service was held on Dec. 18, 2021 at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion.

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