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The sister of Phillip Adams, the former professional football player who allegedly murdered five people this week before dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, says that his mental health deteriorated after his injury-ridden NFL career.
“His mental health degraded fast and terribly bad,’’ Lauren Adams told USA Today. “There was unusual behavior. I’m not going to get into all that (symptoms). We definitely did notice signs of mental illness that was extremely concerning, that was not like we had ever seen.”
Investigators believe that Phillip Adams went to the Rock Hill, South Carolina home of Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara, 69 on Wednesday, and fatally shot them and their grandchildren, Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5. Two technicians working on the house at that time were also shot. James Lewis, 38, died. Robert Shook, the sole survivor, underwent surgery this week for his injuries, CNN reports.
Adams, 32, later died at his parents' house from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Adams played as a defensive back for the NFL from 2010 to 2015, spending time with the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons.
He had two concussions over the course of three games in 2012. Before the concussions, he suffered an ankle break in 2010.
Lauren attributes some of her brother’s recent mental health issues to his NFL career, noting that after 2015 he wanted nothing to do with the sport.
“He really didn’t want anything to do with football,’’ she told USA Today. ’’He didn't watch it. If we were watching it, he would leave the room or ask us to turn it off."
She said he turned into an angrier person.
“In conversations, it would escalate to arguments,’’ she told USA Today. “Normally it would just be a normal conversation. His temperament had changed where he was super laid back forever and all of the sudden he had that temper. You could just tell that something was off."
Lauren said that Adams, who was once a social person, had recently been neglecting his hygiene and withdrawing from others. She said that about 18 months ago he wouldn’t even tell his own family where he lived. He'd recently moved back in with his parents in Rock Hill.
Lauren also told the outlet that her brother had recently tried to apply for disability benefits with the NFL.
“I know he had been applying for disability and he said they were making it hard for him,’’ said Lauren. “And towards the end, he felt like they were trying to basically stiff him on money.”
Adams also may have believed that Dr. Robert Lesslie, who had been treating him, was withholding medication from him. South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman, who was close friends with the doctor and his family, supported this theory when speaking to local outlet WBTV.
“My understanding [is] he was treating him, and had, from my understanding, stopped giving him medicine, and that’s what triggered the killings,” Norman said, adding that he was given that information by investigators.
Dr. Robert Lesslie practiced medicine in Rock Hill for 40 years and was the founder and medical director of Riverview House Calls & Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care, according to the company's website.
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