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Crime News Aaron Hernandez Uncovered

6 Athletes Who Took Their Own Lives

From brain trauma to depression, researchers are looking in the link between sports and suicide.

By Sowmya Krishnamurthy
Aaron Hernandez Uncovered Premieres on March 17th at 7/6c

On April 19, 2017, 27-year-old Aaron Hernandez was found hanging in his prison cell. The suicide of the former New England Patriots star shocked the world of sports.

Oxygen's new docu-series “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered” delves deep into the sudden demise of Aaron Hernandez with unprecedented access and commentary from those that knew him best.  The series premieres March 17 at 7/6c on Oxygen.


The death of Aaron Hernandez isn't the only suicide to affect the world of sports. Researchers have looked into the link between suicide and athletic brain trauma, especially chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as well as other factors like depression, as The American Journal of Sports Medicine reported.

Here's 6 other sports stars that took their own lives.

Junior Seau

Retired football player Junior Seau shot himself in the chest in May 2012. His suicide made headlines when the 43-year-old's brain was tested post-mortem at the behest of his family. Doctors found out that he had degenerative brain disease, CTE, as reported by The Los Angeles Times.

“The [Seau] finding underscores the recognized need for additional research to accelerate a fuller understanding of CTE. The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello after the report.

Shane Dronett

Like Seau, former NFL lineman Shane Dronett was found to have CTE when he killed himself. In 2009, he committed suicide at the age of 38. His family shared that he had displayed strange behavioral and personality changes leading up to the suicide, according to CNN

"He woke up in the middle of the night and started screaming and told everyone to run out of the house," said his wife about one such incident. "He thought that someone was blowing up our house. It was very frightening."

Rick Rypien

In August 2011,  Winnipeg Jets forward Rick Rypien was found dead in his home in Canada. The 27-year-old was reportedly struggling with depression for a decade prior to his death and tried to conceal his suffering, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.

Kenny McKinley

Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead in his home in September 2010. The 23-year-old was found by a female friend with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest as ESPN reported. Later, news surfaced that McKinley had significant gambling debts and asked former teammate Tom Brandstater to loan him money, shared The Denver Post. The gun he used in the suicide was purchased from another teammate, Jaffar Gaffney.

“Kenny went to Vegas a lot. Sometimes he won, but mostly he lost lots of money,” Brandstater told investigators. “Kenny took out a line of credit in Vegas, and they are trying to collect from him.”

Jovan Belcher

In December 2012, linebacker Jovan Belcher fired a bullet into his right temple. His final statements were about trying to fix his strained relationship with his fiance, as USA Today reported.

"You know that I've been having some major problems at home and with my girlfriend. I need help! I wasn't able to get enough help. I appreciate everything you all have done for me with trying to help … but it wasn't enough. I have hurt my girl already and I can't go back now," he reportedly told Kansas Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli. Prior to killing himself in front of Pioli, the 25-year-old fatally shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins.

Wade Belak

In September 2011, depression reportedly drove hockey player Wade Belak to take his own life. The 31-year-old was found in the 1 King West Hotel and Residence in Toronto, reported the CBC. Belak's death came around the same time as hockey players Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien.

“While the circumstances of each case are unique, these tragic events cannot be ignored,” N.H.L. commissioner, Gary Bettman, and the N.H.L. Players Association’s executive director, Don Fehr, said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “We are committed to examining, in detail, the factors that may have contributed to these events, and to determining whether concrete steps can be taken to enhance player welfare and minimize the likelihood of such events taking place.”

[Photo: Getty Images]