Former NFL Running Back Lawrence Phillips Found Dead in Prison at 40

Lawrence Phillips

Former NFL Running Back Lawrence Phillips Found Dead in Prison at 40

His death is being investigated as a possible suicide.

Published January 13, 2016

Just flat out sad.

Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips was found unresponsive inside of Kern Valley State Prison and pronounced dead at a local California hospital on Wednesday, USA Today Sports is reporting. His death is being investigated as a suspected suicide as of now. Phillips was 40.

The news comes a day after a Superior Court judge found that there was "sufficient cause to believe" that Phillips had murdered his former cell mate in an April 2015 incident at the same Kern Valley State Prison last April.

“There was nothing about his demeanor that made me think he was suicidal at all, or depressed,’’ Phillips's attorney, Jesse Whitten, told USA Today. “He was very confident about winning this case and he was even optimistic about his appeal on his prior cases.’’

He added: “I do think it was hard for him to sit there and listen to people accuse him of this stuff. He was frustrated after the hearing.’’

In a March 2015 letter that made the rounds on the Internet, Phillips wrote, "I feel myself very close to snapping" and "my anger grows daily as I have become fed up with prison."

Within that letter, he also wrote, "I feel my anger is near bursting and that will result in my death or the death of someone else."

Phillips starred on Nebraska's national championship squads in 1994 and 1995 before being tabbed by the St. Louis Rams as the sixth pick in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft. He wound up playing three seasons in the NFL in a pro career that never quite panned out.

Back in 2009, Phillips was sentenced to 31 years in prison for two different crimes, including assaulting an ex-girlfriend and driving his vehicle into three teenagers.

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(Photo: Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)

Written by Mark Lelinwalla


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