Mom on College Footballer's Suicide: 'Maybe It's His Own Brain'

Augustus Lee's brain to be studied by concussion researchers
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2018 12:30 PM CST
The campus of the University of Richmond is pictured on Sept. 13, 2016.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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(Newser) – Phyllis Lee was shocked to learn her 20-year-old son, a University of Richmond football player, had killed himself by asphyxiation in his car just off campus, where his body was found early Tuesday, per USA Today. "I just wonder if something happened … because what he did was so out of character," she tells the Washington Post. "If something had taken over him, maybe it's his own brain that’s working against him." She'll now find out. The brain of Augustus "Gus" Lee of Fairfax, Va., will be donated to the concussion research program out of Boston University, which has linked football to degenerative brain disease CTE. "We hope the information we're able to provide is helpful to [Lee's family],” says Chris Nowinski of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which is involved in the research. "It's certainly going to be helpful to the athlete community."

Lee, the MVP of the team's 2018 spring game, had suffered concussions in the past, and was sidelined for months in middle school after he was knocked unconscious during a lacrosse game. But it was only after Lee joined the football team at Richmond that his mother noticed his behavior change. "He was a little fried. Even though he played sports all his life, he was playing football five days a week," she tells the Post. After Thanksgiving, the defensive back called his parents in tears to say he was headed home, complaining of loneliness. He saw a mental health professional, who planned to set up a neurological screening during winter break, and returned to school. His last two exams were Monday, the same day he was reported missing. (Brain trauma was found in another college footballer who died by suicide.)

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