They’re finally starting to get answers. Late NFL star Aaron Hernandez’s family recently got the results of his autopsy following his April 2017 suicide in jail, and it’s been revealed that he was suffering from a “severe form” of degenerative brain disease C.T.E., which has been linked to football players.
The New York Times reports the damage was similar to that found in players in their 60s. According to a lawyer for the 27-year-old’s family, it was “the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron’s age.”
C.T.E. is short for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is neurodegenerative disease linked to multiple head injuries, and has recently been studied greatly among professional football players. Early stage symptoms of the disease include confusion, headaches, memory loss, impulsive behavior, and poor judgment. According to Dr. Bennet Omalu — the doctor who has led the studying of the disease — it’s likely that the disease drove Aaron to take his own life.
“If you read my book, Truth Doesn’t Have a Side, you will encounter the chapter titled ‘I Bet My License O.J. Simpson Has CTE,’ therefore, it should not be surprising that Aaron Hernandez eventually committed suicide,” he said in a statement to TMZ. “I am yet to examine the brain of a professional football player who does not have CTE or other forms of brain damage. And we have always known for centuries that if you suffer forceful and/or repetitive blows to you head in whatever human activity, you will suffer brain damage.”
The former New England Patriot took his own life while behind bars, serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. Prior to his death, he was acquitted for a separate double homicide charge — and those closest to him said he was seeming optimistic, making his suicide a surprise to his loved ones.
“I felt like we were looking so bright,” his fiancée Shayanna told Dr. Phil. “We were going up a ladder to a positive direction.”
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.