The family of the Washington State football player who died of suicide in January said the 21-year-old quarterback had extensive brain damage that's been linked to concussions from playing the sport, the AP reports. Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment with a gunshot wound and a suicide note on Jan. 16. Mark and Kym Hilinski told NBC's Today show on Tuesday that the Mayo Clinic requested to do an autopsy of their son's brain. The interview comes alongside the debut of a new Sports Illustrated documentary about the family's search for answers. The family in those interviews said the autopsy results indicated that their son had signs of extensive brain damage known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which has been found in hundreds of former NFL players.
The sophomore quarterback was last seen alive the same day, when he dropped a teammate off on campus for morning class. Police said the rifle belonged to a teammate and that Hilinski took it without the teammate's knowledge on or before Jan. 12. Kym Hilinski said they were shocked and numb after finding out that he had shot himself. She said he'd never shot a gun until the day before he died. There were no verbal signs that the young football player was suffering. His mother said he was quiet, reserved but always happy. "Did football kill Tyler?...I don't think so. Did he get CTE from football? Probably. Was that the only thing that attributed to his death? I don't know," Kym Hilinski says in the documentary. The family's other son was also a star quarterback at his high school and is set to play at the University of South Carolina with the support of his parents.
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