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They won’t be front row, they won’t be in the crowd, and they won’t even be in the stadium, but the mother and grandmother of Denver Broncos player Demaryius Thomas won’t miss his Super Bowl debut for anything.

Thing is, Katina Smith and her mom, Minnie Thomas, are incarcerated and will be watching the anticipated game in jail. In fact, the two have been cellmates for 14 years, since they were arrested on federal charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Future football star Thomas was only 11-years-old when they were arrested.

Thomas is facing 40 years to life, Smith 20 years. They are both at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, FL.

According to the Daily Mail:

They will sit in a small room, wearing prison-issued gray T-shirts because they’re not permitted to wear his orange No. 88 jersey, as Demaryius, who was raised by his aunt and uncle, tries to beat the Seattle Seahawks.

But his mother is allowed to call him, and she’ll make sure she does that on Sunday morning.

“We pray over the telephone together and I ask him if he’s nervous, and I tell him ‘if you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Make sure you keep your team encouraged, pray for them and play your best,'” Smith, 41, told The New York Post.

Their relationship, sadly, wasn’t always the best. After begging his mother to stop selling drugs out of their home, the two women were busted.

“He was under the impression that I sold the drugs,” Smith told The Post. “I did — and I told him and his sisters — I did keep money from my mother on two occasions and that’s how I got pulled into the whole thing.”

It took her a full decade to tell Thomas what really happened.

“I told him over the telephone,” Smith said. “I wasn’t able to tell him in person. But before I was able to tell him in person, his face was like he didn’t want to be there. ‘Why do I have to come? I don’t even like coming down here.'”

Eventually, he visited the prison in 2003. He returned in 2006 and in 2009.

Smith, with a heavy heart, knew she needed to apologize to both Thomas and her other children so they could move forward.

“… it was heavy on my heart. I could talk to him over the phone, and it was like he respected me and he loved me, I knew that, but at the same time, it was something missing. Like the conversations might of been short, or the visits, he was kind of isolated. So I was like, maybe I need to go ahead and tell him and his sisters what really happened so they can make their own decision how they want to deal with it.”

He forgave her. And even though she missed some important moments, like being there when he was drafted to the NFL and missing his games, she’s making an effort to be there now — even if it’s just in spirit.

“One of the things is I wish I could be at the stadium, watching the game in person with my 88 jersey, with my pom-poms, and getting the crowd pumped and hyped, to cheer for them,” she said. “And then being able to see him once they come off the field, and he being able to see my face to know that I’m there to support him and his team.”

For Thomas, that’s enough.

“My momma, she just told me, ‘I told you you would make it,'” he said. “We haven’t really talked about it much, but I talked to my grandma and she said the same thing. She got emotional and all, but they just said, ‘You were going to make it.'”

Talk about a tearjerker.

SOURCE: Daily Mail, NY Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, D. Thomas

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