Coroner to issue brain test results of NFL player who shot 6

Crime
Phillip Adams

FILE – In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Phillip Adams (35) sits on the sideline during the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco. A source briefed on a mass killing in South Carolina says the gunman who killed multiple people, including a prominent doctor, was the former NFL pro. The source said that Adams shot himself to death early Thursday, April 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — A coroner is set to release test results Tuesday for a degenerative brain disease in the former NFL player suspected of fatally shooting six people in South Carolina before killing himself in April.

The family of ex-football pro Phillip Adams agreed shortly after his death to have his brain tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the degenerative disease linked to head trauma and concussions that has been shown to cause a range of symptoms including violent mood swings and memory loss.

Authorities have said that on April 7, Phillip Adams killed Rock Hill physician Robert Lesslie; his wife, Barbara; two of their grandchildren, 9-year-old Adah Lesslie and 5-year-old Noah Lesslie; and two HVAC technicians working at the Lesslie home, James Lewis and Robert Shook, both 38. Police later found Adams with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

CTE, which can only be diagnosed through an autopsy, has been found in former members of the military, football players and boxers and others who have been subjected to repeated head trauma. One recent study found signs of the debilitating disease in 110 of 111 NFL players whose brains were inspected.

Adams, 32, played in 78 NFL games for six teams over six seasons He joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2010 as a seventh-round draft pick out of South Carolina State, and though he rarely started, he went on to play for New England, Seattle, Oakland and the New York Jets before finishing his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.

As a rookie, Adams suffered a severe ankle injury and never played for the 49ers again. Later, with the Raiders, he had two concussions over three games in 2012.

He wouldn’t have been eligible for testing as part of a broad settlement between the league and former players over long-lasting concussion-related injuries, because he hadn’t retired by 2014.

Adams’ sister previously told USA Today that her brother’s “mental health degraded fast and terribly bad” in recent years and that the family noticed “extremely concerning” signs of mental illness, including an escalating temper and personal hygiene neglect.

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