Former Florida and New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s lawyer says his client’s brain showed severe signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, the degenerative brain disease.
Attorney Jose Baez said tests showed evidence to support his claim while speaking in a news conference at his offices on Thursday, according to a story by the New York Times.
Hernandez committed suicide in April inside the jail cell where he was carrying out a life-without-parole sentence for a 2013 murder of onetime friend Odin Lloyd.
CTE has gotten massive attention in recent years, engulfing the NFL with headlines as it has been discovered that more and more former players have acquired the brain disease, which can be caused by repeated head trauma. The disease can only be diagnosed posthumously.
The ailment leads to symptoms like violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive difficulties.
In the news conference, Baez revealed another stunning bit of news. He said researchers concluded Hernandez’s brain was “the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron’s age.” Hernandez was 27.
Hernandez’s family plans on suing the NFL and the New England Patriots.
Aaron Hernandez had stage 3 CTE, per attorney Jose Baez. Brain was studied at Boston University. Family will sue NFL and Patriots.
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) September 21, 2017
In July, researchers at Boston University — the same institution that examined Hernandez’s brain — revealed how prevalent the disease is among former NFL players. CTE was discovered in the brains of 110 of 111 former players they studied.
Hernandez, who hung himself in his prison cell, joined a number of other players who committed suicide such as Junior Seau and Andre Waters.
Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the CTE Center at Boston University, studied Hernandez’s brain. There are 4 stages of CTE, with 4 being the most severe case.
Hernandez was diagnosed at Stage 3, which is usually accompanied by “cognitive impairment and trouble with executive functions like planning and organizing.”
Hernandez was a fourth-round pick out of Florida by the Patriots in the 2010 NFL Draft. In three seasons, Hernandez appeared in 38 games and had 175 receptions for 1,956 yards and 18 TDs.
In 2012, at just 22 years old, he signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots.