LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — De'von Hall, a former football player from Reseda, was the pride of his family.
Now his family wants to know how he could have killed his own mother -- Alecia Hall -- with his bare hands.
Hall's family believes the sport led to the 29-year-old having mental illness.
CBS 2's Amy Johnson spoke to members of his family Thursday while they gathered to see Hall in court facing a judge.
The family told Johnson they are heartbroken and they fell like they have lost two family members -- one from murder, the other from mental illness.
They also said they are hoping by telling their story, people fighting mental illness get the help they need. They believe his mental issues were caused by many concussions he sustained playing college and pro ball.
Hall played briefly with Vikings, Colts and Tampa Bay. He hasn't been in the NFL for seven or so years, but they said he went from being a sweet and happy kid to someone violent.
"It was like a switch that had gone off," said cousin Angela Benson-Williams, "I didn't recognize my cousin anymore."
Uncle Tony Benson, Alecia's brother, concurs.
"He turned into something that became vicious," he said, "and that was the sport he was in. The move vicious, the more accolades you get."
He'd been homeless but his mother took him to try to help.
Hall was living with his mother the last two months of her life. Authorities said he attacked her on April 24 inside her Baldwin Hills home. The family took her off life support four days later.
"There has to be a way to be able to get people help that need it," says cousin Chris Benson, "without demonizing them ..."
Services will be held for Alecia Hall Friday.
De'von will be back in court May 31.
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