Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez sits at the defense table during his double-murder trial at Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Mar. 2, 2017. (Keith Bedford/the Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The former New England Patriot who committed suicide in a Massachusetts prison in April after being convicted of first-degree murder suffered from a degenerative brain disease that researchers say they have never seen in someone his age.

In a press conference to announce a lawsuit on behalf of NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez’s daughter, Avielle, attorney Jose Baez said that one of the chief neuropathologists in the country examined Hernandez’s brain. Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the CTE Center at Boston University, reported that Hernandez suffered from stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, according to the New York Times.

Baez said that the researchers who examined the 27-year-old Hernandez’s brain called it “the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron’s age.” Doctors said that the advanced stage of CTE in Hernandez was consistent with someone who was 67 years old. McKee is the physician who developed the categories for the condition that researchers found in the brains of 110 of 111 ex-NFL players.

After a rough life growing up in Connecticut, Hernandez rose to fame at the University of Florida, which he led to a national championship in 2008. He went on to sign a $40 million contract with the Patriots, but in 2015 he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd. He was acquitted of two other murders in 2017.


Baez said that he has not decided whether he will add the University of Florida and the NCAA to the lawsuit, but seeks unspecified damages from the New England Patriots and the NFL for loss of parental support, adding that both entities were “fully aware of the damage that could be inflicted from repetitive impact injuries and failed to disclose, treat or protect him from the dangers of such damage.”

Read more at the New York Times.