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Medical examiner says ex-NFL player Phillip Adams had CTE during S.C. shooting

Medical examiner says ex-NFL player Phillip Adams had CTE during S.C. shooting
Phillip Adams (28) is seen while playing for the Oakland Raiders during a game versus Washington on September 29, 2013. Officials said Adams had CTE in April when he was shot six people to death in South Carolina. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A former NFL player who police say shot and killed six people in South Carolina before killing himself last spring had a chronic brain injury often found in former players, according to an autopsy released Tuesday.

Police said Phillip Adams, a native of Rock Hill, S.C., killed physician Robert Lesslie, his wife and two grandchildren and two workers on April 8 before committing suicide.

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While officials stopped short of saying the brain injury was the reason for Adams' actions, the York County Coroner's Office confirmed that Adams had Stage 2 CTE.

CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a debilitating brain disease tied to concussions and repetitive head trauma from football, other contact sports and military veterans. It has been connected with memory loss, paranoia and impulsive behavior.

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Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at the Boston University CTE Center, said Adams' frontal lobe pathology in his brain was "abnormally severe." She compared the injury to that of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez.

Hernandez committed suicide in prison in 2017 two years after he was convicted of murder.

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York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said that Adams had prescribed amphetamines in his system at the time of his death, along with an over-the-counter drug called Kratom, which can be a stimulant in small doses and acts similarly to opiates when taken in large amounts.

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Adams played for five years in the NFL and was out of the league in 2015. He'd played for the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets.

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