Former NFL Player Found Dead in Prison Cell Officials are calling Lawrence Phillips' death suicide By Michael Harthorne, Newser Staff Posted Jan 13, 2016 2:44 PM CST 56 comments Comments St. Louis Rams running back Lawrence Phillips leaps over a mound of players as he scores against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1996. He was found dead in his prison cell on Wednesday. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File) (Newser) – A former NFL player was found dead in his cell at a California prison on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports. Officials are investigating the death of 40-year-old Lawrence Phillips as a suicide. According to KernGoldenEmpire.com, Phillips was found unconscious in a cell by himself at Kern Valley State Prison and was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later. His murder trial for allegedly killing a former cellmate in April was just getting started, the Times reports. According to USA Today, Phillips could have faced the death penalty if found guilty. The one-time star college running back was serving a 31-year sentence for domestic violence, false imprisonment, and vehicle theft. Phillips—a first-round pick who spent time with the St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins, and San Francisco 49ers during his short career—was sentenced to prison in 2009, USA Today reports. According to KernGoldenEmpire.com, he was convicted on seven counts of assaulting his girlfriend, as well as hitting three teens with his car after a pickup football game. "I feel myself very close to snapping,'' USA Today quotes a letter Phillips wrote to his mother the month before his cellmate was found strangled. "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.''