BOSTON — Aaron Hernandez had “the most severe case” of CTE BU researchers have ever seen in a person his age, Attorney Jose Baez said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
In light of the results of an inquest into the former Patriot’s brain, Baez has filed a federal lawsuit against the NFL and the New England Patriots.
Baez said the results of a post-mortem study conducted on Hernandez's brain showed signs of a severe case of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
"If we knew more about it," he said. "Our client may have known more about what was happening to him."
The degenerative brain disease has become a frequent topic among football players and their families, both young and old.
Baez was accompanied by Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez’s long-time fiancée and said the lawsuit is on behalf of Hernandez's daughter.
“We had a heated battle with the Suffolk county medical examiner’s office for the brain of Aaron Hernandez so it could be studied by the Boston University CTE center,” Baez explained. "I’d like to thank Doctor Ann McKee for all the hard work they’ve done. The results of Aaron Hernandez’s test were positive. Aaron suffered from a severe case of CTE.”
“We’re told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age,” he said. “[His degree] is usually found in the brain of a man 67 years of age.”
Baez encouraged people who participate in contact sports like football to consider participating in tests.
A graphic linked in a statement from Boston University shows an example of what signs of CTE look like.
"Based on characteristic neuropathological findings, Dr. McKee concluded that Mr. Hernandez had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Stage 3 out of 4, (Stage 4 being the most severe)," the statement read. "This diagnosis was confirmed by a second VABHS neuropathologist. In addition, Mr. Hernandez had early brain atrophy and large perforations in the septum pellucidum, a central membrane."
According to the University, Dr. McKee's research has shown "CTE is associated with aggressiveness, explosiveness, impulsivity, depression, memory loss and other cognitive changes."
“My team has filed a federal lawsuit suing the NFL and the New England Patriots,” Baez announced. “That lawsuit was filed this afternoon."
Boston 25 News reached out to the NFL for comment, but the organization said they hadn't seen the lawsuit and declined.
The high-profile attorney is also set to appear on ESPN's SportsCenter Friday morning, according to his Instagram account.
Baez released a statement earlier this year calling for a full investigation into the football star's apparent suicide. He said there were apparently no signs that the former New England Patriots player was suicidal.
Hernandez was in the process of appealing his murder conviction, which came with a life sentence with no possibility of parole. Baez was the lead attorney on the double murder case, in which Hernandez was acquitted.
The question into why Hernandez would end his own life may always go unanswered.
It was just after 3 a.m. a few days after he was acquitted on double murder charges when corrections officers found Hernandez hanging from a bed sheet.
No suicide note was left, but sources told Boston 25 News “John 3:16” was written on his forehead and the wall of his prison cell.
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