Lawrence Phillips, the ex-NFL star suspected of killing his prison cellmate last year, was found dead in his cell in California early Wednesday morning, an apparent suicide.
Phillips, 40, was found unresponsive in his cell at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano during security checks, according to the Bakersfield Californian
. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The day before, a Kern County Superior Court judge had ruled there was enough evidence to try to former football running back for first-degree murder in the strangling his sleeping cellmate in April 2015.
Phillips had been in prison since 2008, serving 31 years for domestic violence, false imprisonment and vehicle theft charges, said CNN
Phillips was in trouble from his days as a star running back at Nebraska, where he rushed for 1,772 yards in 1994, leading the Cornhuskers to the national championship, but suspended the next year on charges that he assaulted his then girlfriend.
He received one year probation after pleading no contest and was placed back on the team.
"I saw the potential," his Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne told the Lincoln Journal Star
. "I knew this was a guy that could have lived a productive life with the right set of circumstances. For whatever reason it just didn’t happen. Lawrence obviously had some demons that were never completely put to rest.
"And I think the general public will always perceive Lawrence as a troubled and a bad person. And there were some things he did that were bad. But they were other qualities that the public didn't see that were what we would generally call good qualities."
According to CNN, The St. Louis Rams took Phillips as the sixth overall pick of the 1996 NFL Draft, while he was on probation. He played for the Rams, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers over three seasons in the NFL. He also played for Montreal and Calgary in the CFL.
While with the Dolphins, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery in Florida and then to felony assault while with the 49ers. In 2005, Phillips was arrested for assault in Los Angeles after allegedly driving a car into three teenagers after an argument in a pick-up football game, reported the Journal Star.
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