Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Running back Lawrence Phillips (left), playing for the St. Louis Rams during a game against the Oakland Raiders Sept. 28, 1997
Otto Greule /Allsport/Getty Images

Lawrence Phillips, former NFL running back and standout Nebraska Cornhusker, who is currently serving a 31-year sentence on domestic violence charges, is now a major suspect in the death of his cell mate.

According to ESPN, 37-year-old Damion Soward, who was serving 82 years to life for first-degree murder in California's Kern Valley State Prison, was found "unresponsive in his cell Saturday morning." Soward was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, the sports site noted.


Prison authorities are investigating Phillips in Soward's death, according to the report.

Trouble seems to follow Phillips, who in 1996 reportedly assaulted and dragged his ex-girlfriend, a basketball player at Nebraska, down three flights of stairs. According to ESPN, Phillips pleaded no contest and was suspended for six games before he resumed his starting role with the team. Phillips was selected in the 1996 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams and was cut the next year for what the team called "insubordination," and the New York Daily News described "as repeated disciplinary problems and run-ins with the law."


Phillips would star in NFL Europe, where he rushed for over 1,000 yards, piquing the interest of the San Francisco 49ers, who would sign Phillips to a contract, only to cut him shortly afterward for what was described "as conduct detrimental to the team," according to the Daily News.

On Oct. 16, 2008, Phillips was sentenced to a "31-year, four-month sentence for corporal injury to spouse, false imprisonment and vehicle theft," the news site notes.  

Read more at ESPN and the New York Daily News.

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