In the middle of January, the world was shocked to learn of the tragic passing of Washington State University football player Tyler Hilinksi. The 21-year-old QB died by a self-inflicting gunshot.
Immediately after the news of his death emerged, people around the country began pouring in their support. The people closest to Tyler shared heartbreaking tributes, and many of them talked about how Tyler was such a positive and loving individual. People also talked about his bright future ahead of him, especially with athletics.
Head coach Mike Leach said, "We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler's passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
Two months after the tragic death, Hilinski's parents released a powerful statement. They thanked everyone for the heartwarming support and talked about how Tyler always believed the best in and for people.
Now, five months after Tyler's death, his parents have revealed some shocking news. The football player's autopsy revealed that he had CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) at the time of his death.
Tyler's parents believe that the degenerative brain condition was a result of his athletic training. CTE has been linked to concussions from playing football. His parents opened up about the news of the autopsy on a documentary they are filming for Sports Illustrated.
Tyler's father told Hoda Kotb on TODAY, "The medical examiner said he had the brain of a 65-year-old, which is really hard to take. He was the sweetest, most outgoing, giving kid. That was difficult to hear."
His mother said, "They said the tau protein was something you would never see in someone who was 21 years old, but in a much older, elderly man. And it was shocking because we know Tyler. Yes, he was quiet. Yes, he was a little bit more reserved, but he was always happy."
She continued, "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."
She noted that because there weren't any verbal signs that Tyler was suffering, it is important for other athletes to be protected from this kind of damage, whether it played the most significant role in his death or not.
She said, "I remember being kind of numb because you don't think your son is gonna die and you certainly don't think he's going to kill himself. And you certainly don't think that you have to give his brain to the Mayo Clinic for an autopsy."
Please continue praying for this family as they go through this difficult time, especially with these results. Share your prayers here! In other breaking news, another young athlete just passed away after battling cancer. Please pray for her family as well!