CLOSE

SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports' Peter Barzilai discusses the ramifications of the findings that Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE. USA TODAY Sports

18 LINKEDIN 48 COMMENTMORE

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez suffered from a severe form of the debilitating brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Boston University researchers announced on Thursday.

An examination performed by Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s CTE Center, showed that Hernandez’s brain had Stage 3 CTE. Stage 4 is the most severe.

The examination of Hernandez’s brain showed “early brain atrophy and large perforations in the septum pellucidum, a central membrane,” the center announced in a release.

Boston University’s CTE Center published an updated study in July that showed 110 of 111 former NFL players showed signs of CTE in postmortem examinations of their brains. 

Jose Baez, a lawyer for Hernandez, said researchers determined the CTE was “the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron’s age (27)." A lawsuit was filed in federal court in Boston on Thursday seeking $20 million on behalf of Hernandez's daughter, claiming that the team and NFL deprived Avielle Hernandez of the companionship of her father.

Hernandez, who was convicted in 2015 of the murder of former semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd two years prior, was found hanged in April in his jail cell at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass.

He died soon after in a nearby hospital. The Massachusetts chief medical examiner, Dr. Henry N. Nields, concluded the “manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging,” according a news release.

CTE, which can only be diagnosed in an autopsy, has been linked with repeated concussions and involves brain damage particularly in the frontal region that controls many functions including judgment, emotion, impulse control, social behavior and memory.

“We are grateful to the family of Aaron Hernandez for donating his brain to the VA-BU-CLF brain bank,” the Boston University CTE Center said in a statement.

In three seasons with the Patriots, Hernandez joined Rob Gronkowski to form one of the most potent tight end duos in NFL history. In 2011, his second season, Hernandez caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns to help the team reach the Super Bowl, and he was rewarded with a $40 million contract.

But the Patriots released him in 2013, shortly after he was arrested in the killing of Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. Hernandez was convicted and sentenced to life in prison; the conviction was voided because he died before his appeals were exhausted, though that decision is itself being appealed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

PHOTOS: Aaron Hernandez through the years

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

 

18 LINKEDIN 48 COMMENTMORE