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For Thomas, every day is for giving thanks
Earl Thomas doesn't need a designated day to give thanks. The Seahawks' Pro Bowl free safety lives a life of thankfulness.
Not that he needs it, but Thomas gets a daily reminder of just how fortunate he is from his infant daughter, Kaleigh Rose.
"She just brings joy to the whole household," Thomas said. "After a long day at work, you go home and you've got a lot of stuff on your mind. But as soon as I see her, everything, it just clears it. It kind of gets me ready for the next day."
Kaleigh Rose was born Sept. 24, just before kickoff on the Monday night when the Seahawks hosted the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field. Needless to say, life has not been the same since for Thomas or Nina, Kaleigh Rose's mother.
"It's just crazy to see her grow every day," Thomas said. "It seems like something changes every day. She looks just like me, and I didn't ever think I could create something beautiful like that. It's just a blessing."
Family always has been foremost for Thomas, and the fact that his is now extended only extends the meaning of Thanksgiving and his reasons for being so thankful.
"Thanksgiving really means just the opportunity to sit and reflect on everything your family has been going through – the good times, and also the bad times," he said. "I think some of the good times and the bad times are what you're really grateful for.
"This time you spend with your family, on this day, it's a great time to just really bond, appreciate each other and show them how much you really love them. There's no way better to do it than by fixing a big meal and everybody sitting around and just laughing."
With this Thanksgiving Day, for Thomas and his teammates and coaches, football also was a primary focus as they practiced – on the outdoor fields at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, no less – for Sunday's need-to-win game against the Dolphins in Miami.
"It also makes you think how grateful you are to have this opportunity just to live your dream," Thomas said. "To be able to put the NFL helmet on, it's just a crazy thing. Sometimes when I walk out of the tunnel (at CenturyLink Field), I'm still in awe. Or even when I make a big play, I just never thought that it would happen for me this soon.
"You always dream about going to the League, but you never think it really could happen."
Someone pinch Thomas. He is not dreaming. He is indeed living the dream. And his ability to play the game well enough to be the 14th player selected in the 2010 NFL Draft has allowed him and his family to emerge from one of those bad times he spoke of.
Thomas' parents, Debbie and Earl Jr., lost their home in Orange, Texas, to Hurricane Rita in 2005. So after signing his rookie contract, their son bought them a new one.
"My family has taken care of me my whole life and it just feels like a great honor for me just to take that load off their back and get them a house, because we don't have a house right now," he said at the time. "We're staying with my grandparents and there's a lot of stuff cluttered in one room. It's a great feeling when you can take your family out of their situation."
Thomas' early entry into the NFL, after just two seasons at the University of Texas, also allowed his mother to take early retirement from her job as a receptionist for the Little Cypress-Mauriceville school district and concentrate on her vocation that is a labor of love.
"When I go (to Seattle) I'm like, 'Go Earl,' " Debbie Thomas told the Beaumont Enterprise in January. "I've been his No. 1 cheerleader – one of them, because he's got a lot of them – since he started."
And that's why every day is a day to give thanks for Thomas and his expanding family.
"Thanksgiving is just another day of showing your appreciation for your family," he said, "and all the blessings God has blessed you with."