Former baseball player Ryan Freel had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) when he committed suicide, according to his family.
The Florida Times-Union reported that family members announced at a private mass on Sunday that Freel had been diagnosed with Stage II CTE by the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and Sports Legacy Institute after he died. The results were also revealed to Major League Baseball representatives on Dec. 11, according to the report.
“It's a release in that there was a physical reason for what he did. On the other side for me, Ryan fell through the cracks. He was seen by the heads of Duke, then a whole bunch of other people ... since he came back, Mayo. All those guys couldn't put it together,” stepfather Clark Vargas told the paper.
CTE is a degenerative brain disease that often occurs in people who have a history of traumatic brain injuries, including athletes in contact sports and military veterans. Symptoms include memory loss, changes in mood, cognitive deficits, confusion, aggression and motor skill issues.
The disease can only be definitively diagnosed in athletes after they have died. San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau was diagnosed with CTE after his suicide. So did former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson. UCLA recently came up with a new testing technique and claimed to diagnosed three former living NFL players with CTE, including Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett.
Freel is the first MLB player to allow the center to study his brain and the first professional baseball player to be diagnosed with CTE. He reportedly had symptoms including headaches, problems with attention and concentration, memory issues and depression before he died.
Freel died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Dec. 22,
2012. He had nine or 10 concussions during the course of his eight-year career, according
to CBS Sports.
The MLB recently announced intentions to ban home-plate collisions.