Autopsy Finds NFL Murderer Aaron Hernandez Had Severe Case of 'CTE'

Aaron Hernandez, the former National Football League tight end who was convicted of murder in 2015 and committed suicide in his jail cell last April, suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain disease known as CTE caused by repeated blows to the head, his lawyer said Thursday.

As the New York Times notes, Hernandez is just the latest player who committed suicide and was later found to have CTE, which is only diagnosed after death. The effects of C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease, is one of the most controversial topics in professional sports today.

Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, added Hernandez's cognitive disorders could be linked to the disease.CTE can only be tested only after the person is deceased.

Hernandez's family announced the news late Thursday that Hernandez, who was serving a life term without parole for a murder conviction in a MA jail, had Stage 3 Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

The discovery was made following an autopsy of Hernandez following his suicide in April.

Hernandez was only 27 years old. The conversation around brain disease and the NFL has grown in recent years as a growing number of football players have developed brain injuries and neurological conditions. Boston University officials say Hernandez also had early brain atrophy and perforations in a central membrane. Hernandez played a major role in Bill Belichick's offense in New England as one-half of a dynamic tight end duo that included Rob Gronkowski.

"We are grateful to the family of Aaron Hernandez for donating his brain to the VA-BU-CLF brain bank", BU said in a statement.

Players whose careers concluded before July 2014 "gave up the right to sue the NFL Parties" unless they opted out, according to the settlement.

Hernandez stopped playing football at the age of 23.

Hernandez was found hanging in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center on April 19.

  • Stacy Allen