PULLMAN, Wash. — The family of the Washington State University football player who died of suicide in January said the 21-year-old quarterback had extensive brain damage that's been linked to concussions from playing the sport.
Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment with a gunshot wound to the head and a suicide note on Jan. 16.
On Tuesday, Mark and Kym Hilinski told NBC's "Today" show that the Mayo Clinic did an autopsy of their son's brain. The results indicated that Hilinski had stage one chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.
A medical examiner also told the family that their son's brain was that of a 65-year-old.
Symptoms of stage one CTE include headaches and loss of attention, reports Reuters.
Stage two sufferers may face depression, outbursts of anger and short-term memory loss. Those in stage three encounter executive dysfunction and cognitive impairment. Symptoms of the most severe fourth stage include dementia, aggression and difficulty finding words.
Tyler's mother Kym said she doesn't think football killed her son but that she believes he probably got CTE from the sport.
"Did football kill Tyler?' I don't think so. Did he get CTE from football? Probably. Was that the only thing that attributed to his death? I don't know," Kym said in a Sports Illustrated documentary.