Updated April 7, 3:02 PM CT
Hilinski update: Parents say CTE caused suicide of college star
The parents of Washington State QB Tyler Hilinksi said their deceased son had the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) when he committed suicide in January.
"The medical examiner said he had the brain of a 65-year-old, which is really hard to take,'' Hilinski's father, Mark, told NBC News' Hoda Kotb. "He was the sweetest, most outgoing, giving kid. That was difficult to hear."
Hilinski was a quarterback at Washington State when he was killed by a single gunshot to the head. He was in line to become the full-time starter in 2018, and had recently recorded a 272-yard passing performance in the Holiday Bowl.
In a documentary about their son's death for Sports Illustrated, Hilinski's parents revealed their son was diagnosed with CTE postmortem by doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
"They said the tau protein was something you would never see in someone who was 21 years old, but in a much more older, elderly man,'' Hilinksi's mother, Kym, said in the documentary. "And it was shocking, because we know Tyler. Yes, he was quiet. Yes, he was a little bit more reserved, but he was always happy."
There is still no cure for CTE, and the disease can only be diagnosed after death.
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