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A lawyer for Aaron Hernandez said the former New England Patriots tight end was diagnosed with a “severe” form of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in an evaluation following his death from an apparent suicide in April.

In a news conference at his offices, attorney Jose Baez said testing showed that Hernandez had Stage 3 CTE, with Stage 4 being the highest. Baez said it was “the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron’s age.”

Baez also said Thursday that the CTE testing, which can only be diagnosed in an autopsy, led him to file a federal lawsuit against the National Football League and the Patriots organization on behalf of Hernandez’s daughter.

CTE can be caused by repeated head trauma and leads to symptoms like violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive difficulties. The condition has been linked with repeated concussions and involves brain damage, particularly in the frontal region that controls many functions including judgment, emotion, impulse control, social behavior and memory.

A recent study found evidence of CTE in 110 of 111 former NFL players whose brains were examined.

Hernandez, 27, killed himself in the jail cell where he was serving a life sentence for a 2013 murder.

On April 19 of this year, he was found not guilty for the 2012 double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Miami. Five days later he was found hanging in his prison cell and pronounced dead at the UMass Memorial-Health Alliance Hospital.

In May, a Massachusetts judge threw out the murder conviction against Hernandez because the appeal review of the verdict wasn’t completed before his death.


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