Aaron Hernandez's Brain Showed A Severe Case of CTE

Aaron Hernandez's Brain Showed A Severe Case of CTE

The center studies chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a progressive degenerative brain disease found in some athletes who have experienced repetitive brain trauma.

CTE - which has been known to contribute to mood swings, lack of impulse control and anti-social behavior - can be diagnosed only after death. In a July survey of her findings, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, McKee revealed that she's examined the brains of 111 ex-NFL players and found CTE in 110 of them.

Baez said that the researchers who examined the 27-year-old Hernandez brain called it "the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron's age".

He was serving a life sentence without parole for the 2013 murder of semi-professional footballer Odin Lloyd. Several former National Football League players, including Junior Seau, were diagnosed with the disease after committing suicide.

Shortly after he was found not guilty on double-murder charges in April, Hernandez's body was found in his prison cell in an apparent suicide. "The NFL had made certain representations to players during the time that Aaron was playing, and those representations turned out to be false, and for that reason we have pursued this lawsuit", said Hernandez family lawyer Jose Baez. He said that in retrospect, the family had witnessed Hernandez act in a manner consistent with a person having CTE "but you don't know".

A former fourth-round pick of the New England Patriots, Aaron Hernandez was once one of the brightest offensive stars in the league.

The Hernandez case is bound to reignite controversy over youth football and concussion.

While the disease can not be truly diagnosed until after a person's death, various football players have reportedly faced symptoms of CTE. The center released a statement saying Hernandez had Stage 3 CTE; the scale runs from one to four.

Baez said the test for CTE would be an important part of his office's investigation into Hernandez's death.