–originally posted on espn.com—
Demaryius Thomas has just sent his mother a picture of the most unlikely Super Bowl ticket of all, the one intended for her, and now Katina Smith has a few days to decide whether she’s prepared to take it.
It’s been just six months since President Barack Obama granted her clemency and released her from federal prison 15 years into a 20-year drug sentence. It’s been 10 weeks since she left a halfway house and moved back home; eight weeks since she bought her first cellphone; five weeks since she learned to drive again; and four weeks since she met some of her nieces and nephews for the first time. It’s been two days since her most recent panic attack, which she spent holed up in her bedroom, overwhelmed by the freedoms and stresses of the outside world.
“I’m like a child,” she tells Demaryius during a phone call. “I have to relearn everything. It’s information overload, and my head is about to explode.”
Her transition back into society has had its stressful moments, but never more so than this week. Relatives call for Super Bowl tickets. Strangers on the Internet complain to her about Demaryius’ dropped passes. Her parole officer says she needs to find a job, enroll in college, submit to another drug test and fill out paperwork if she wants to travel to the Super Bowl in San Francisco. He has questions about her potential itinerary, and Katina has questions, too — all of which she asks Demaryius each morning during their daily calls.
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