Celebrity NFL Star Thomas Dies By People Staff Published on October 30, 1998 12:00 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Kansas City Chiefs star linebacker Derrick Thomas, 33, died in a Miami hospital this morning while being treated for injuries he suffered in a Jan. 23 car crash. The NFL star had been injured when he crashed his speeding car while headed for the Kansas City, Kans., airport. One of the two passengers was killed instantly, while the other suffered minor injuries. Thomas sustained severe spinal damage and was left paralyzed. A spokesperson for the Chiefs said Thomas had a heart attack today and efforts to resuscitate him failed. Born in Alabama, Thomas set the single-game sack record in a 1990 game against Seattle that was held the same week as Veterans Day. Thomas dedicated his performance that afternoon to his father, an Air Force pilot who had been killed in Vietnam.