Ex-St. Louis Rams running back Lawrence Phillips was found dead in jail today in what investigators are deeming a suicide. He was 40 years old.
Phillips was serving over 30 years in prison for charges that included, but were not limited to, domestic abuse and vehicular assault. In addition to those charges, he was facing a potential death penalty in the death of his cellmate, 37-year-old Damion Soward, who was found strangled–Phillips’ lawyers argued that Soward’s death was a product of self-defense.
Late last year, it was reported that Phillips would be using the money he received in an NFL concussion settlement to fund his defense as he prepared to face the charges stemming from the death of his cellmate. Phillips’ attorney, Daniel Chamberlain, alleged that concussions Phillips suffered while an NFL player may have led to his numerous legal issues. In two tumultuous seasons as a St. Louis Ram, Phillips amassed over 1,000 yards rushing, but was constantly dealing with injuries and legal issues, keeping him from properly grooming a career in the NFL.
This news obviously comes at a very interesting time, considering the numerous conversations Will Smith‘s Concussion film has started in the past weeks, and the subsequent Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations it’s achieved, keeping the film and the message it carries quite relevant.
In a letter Phillips wrote to his mother while he was incarcerated, he somewhat predicted his unfortunate demise with a chilling foreshadowing. “My anger grows daily as I have become fed up with prison. I feel my anger is near bursting and that will result in my death or the death of someone else.”