An autopsy reveals severe brain damage to the former NFL player’s frontal lobe that shot dead five people before committing suicide in April.
An autopsy revealed severe brain damage to the former NFL player’s frontal lobe that shot and killed five people before committing suicide in April, authorities reported Tuesday.
Phillip Adams’ 20 years of playing football “certainly … led” to the diagnosis of stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, said Dr. Ann McKee, who examined his brain.
Authorities say Adams killed physician Robert Lesslie; his wife, Barbara; two of her grandchildren, Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, on April 7, in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The other victims were two ventilation employees who were working at the Lesslies’ residence, James Lewis and Robert Shook, both 38 years old. Police found Adams dead, shot in the head.
CTE, as degenerative brain disease is known, is a condition attributed to repeated head trauma and concussions. It has been shown to cause a variety of symptoms, such as outbursts of anger and memory loss.
“There are indications that he had obvious behavioral and cognitive problems,” McKee said. “I don’t think it was something sudden. It gives the impression that it was a disability that was getting worse. He was more and more paranoid, he was having more difficulties with his memory and his behavior was more and more impulsive. Perhaps he could not identify himself, but it was not something that happened out of nowhere ”.
McKee, director of a specialty center for the disease at Boston University, said that of the 24 NFL players diagnosed with CTE, after dying between the ages of 20 and 30, the majority had stage 2, like Adams. The disease has four stages, with 4 being the most serious and associated with dementia.
The second stage is linked to cognitive and behavioral abnormalities, such as aggression, impulsive reactions, depression, paranoia, anxiety, poor executive function and memory loss, McKee said.
But Adams’ diagnosis of CTE was different from other young players because it was “unusually more severe” in both frontal lobes, the doctor said.
McKee compared Adams’s brain to that of Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star who, after he died, was diagnosed with CTE. Hernández was 27 when he hanged himself in jail while serving a life sentence for a 2013 homicide.
The 32-year-old Adams played in 78 NFL games over five seasons with six different teams. He joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2010 after being selected in the seventh round of the draft from South Carolina State.
Although he rarely started, he also played for New England, Seattle, Oakland and the New York Jets, before ending his career in 2015 with the Atlanta Falcons.
As a rookie, he suffered a serious ankle injury and never wore the 49ers uniform again.
Later, with the Raiders, he had two concussions during three games in 2012.
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