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Ex-NFL player Phillip Adams's brain will be tested for CTE after he shot and killed his doctor, the medic's wife and grandchildren, and a repair man, then turned the gun on himself

 The brain of Phillip Adams - the former NFL player who killed a South Carolina physician, three of the physician's family members and a repairman before fatally shooting himself - will be tested for CTE, a degenerative disease that has affected a pro athletes who have sustained repeated blows to the head.

The disease has been shown to cause violent mood swings and other cognitive disorders, according to recent research.

York County Coroner Sabrina Gast told McClatchy Newspapers on Friday that she had been given approval by Adams' family for the procedure to be included as part of his autopsy, which will be performed at the Medical University of South Carolina. 

His family have told of their concerns about his mental state in the run-up to Wednesday's massacre, with his father Alonzo Adams saying: 'I think the football messed him up.' 

Adams, 32, played in 78 NFL games over six seasons for six teams, from 2010-15. 

Phillip Adams, in 2011 playing for the New England Patriots, murdered five people Wednesday

Phillip Adams, in 2011 playing for the New England Patriots, murdered five people Wednesday

Adams is seen in October 2010, when he was a cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers

Adams is seen in October 2010, when he was a cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers

Adams is pictured in December 2013, playing for the Oakland Raiders

Adams is pictured in December 2013, playing for the Oakland Raiders

The hospital will be working with Boston University, whose chronic traumatic encephalopathy center conducts research on the long-term effects of repetitive brain trauma in athletes and military personnel, according to its website.

According to police, Adams went to the home of Robert and Barbara Lesslie on Wednesday and shot and killed them, two of their grandchildren, 9-year-old Adah Lesslie and 5-year-old Noah Lesslie, and James Lewis, a 38-year-old air conditioning technician from Gaston who was doing work there. 


He also shot Lewis' colleague, 38-year-old Robert Shook, of Cherryville, North Carolina, who was flown to a Charlotte hospital, where he was in critical condition 'fighting hard for his life,' said a cousin, Heather Smith Thompson.

Dr Robert Lesslie, his wife Barbara, their two grandchildren, Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, were killed in the shooting on Wednesday. The four victims are circled above in red in a family photo

Dr Robert Lesslie, his wife Barbara, their two grandchildren, Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, were killed in the shooting on Wednesday. The four victims are circled above in red in a family photo

Police were called to the home in the Rock Hill area at around 4.45pm after gunshots were heard. Pictured above are some members of the victims' family, including Dr Lesslie and wife, Barbara (circled in red), who were killed

Police were called to the home in the Rock Hill area at around 4.45pm after gunshots were heard. Pictured above are some members of the victims' family, including Dr Lesslie and wife, Barbara (circled in red), who were killed

Lesslie, a well-respected doctor who had treated Adams, is pictured playing the piano with his granddaughter Adah, who was among the people killed on Wednesday. No motive has been determined

Lesslie, a well-respected doctor who had treated Adams, is pictured playing the piano with his granddaughter Adah, who was among the people killed on Wednesday. No motive has been determined  

James Lewis, 38, was an HVAC technician who was working at Lesslie's property when he was shot and killed by Adams
He is an only child to his parents and was a single father of three

James Lewis, 38, was an HVAC technician who was working at Lesslies' property when he was shot and killed by Adams. He is an only child to his parents and was a single father of three  

Robert Shook, an HVAC technician, was shot multiple times outside Lesslie's home while doing work along with his colleague, James Lewis, who was killed. Shook is a married father of three

Robert Shook, an HVAC technician, was shot multiple times outside Lesslie's home while doing work along with his colleague, James Lewis, who was killed. Shook is a married father of three   

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said investigators were yet to figure out why Adams carried out the attack.

Tolson said evidence left at the shooting scene led investigators to Adams as a suspect. 

He said they went to Adams' parents' home, evacuated them and then tried to persuade Adams to come out. 

Eventually, they found him dead of a single gunshot wound to the head in a bedroom, he said.

Sources told AP that Robert Lesslie had treated Adams, who lived with his parents not far from the Lesslies' home.

Dr Robert Lesslie is believed to have treated Adams, and lived close to the family

Dr Robert Lesslie is believed to have treated Adams, and lived close to the family

A York County sheriff's deputy is parked outside the Lesslie family's home in South Carolina

A York County sheriff's deputy is parked outside the Lesslie family's home in South Carolina

Tolson would not confirm that Adams had been the doctor's patient.


It will be months before results are available from the tests for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which can only be diagnosed in an autopsy. 

The disorder has been found in former members of the military, football players and boxers and others who have been subjected to repeated head trauma. 

Several former NFL players who were diagnosed with CTE died by suicide, including Adams's former Patriots teammate, Aaron Hernandez, who hanged himself in prison following a murder conviction. 

A recent study found signs of the disease in 110 of 111 NFL players whose brains were inspected.

Several years ago, the league agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the dangers of playing football.

Adams joined the 49ers in 2010 as a seventh-round draft pick out of South Carolina State, and though he rarely started, he went on to play for New England, Seattle, Oakland and the New York Jets before finishing his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.

As a rookie late in the 2010 season, Adams suffered a severe ankle injury, resulting in surgery that included several screws being inserted into his leg. 

He never played for the 49ers again, released just before the 2011 season began. 

Later, with the Raiders, he had two concussions over three games in 2012.

Whether he suffered long-lasting concussion-related injuries was not clear. 

Adams would not have been eligible for testing as part of a broad settlement between the league and its former players over such injuries, because he had not retired by 2014.

Adams suffered several concussions during his football career and was also arrested for assault and carrying a concealed weapon, according to records.  

Before turning pro, Adams was arrested for misdemeanor assault and battery in 2009, although he was not convicted. He was also arrested in Charlotte for carrying a concealed gun in 2016. 

Court officials in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com's request for more information.    

Adams' father told a Charlotte television station that he blamed football for problems his son had, and which might have led him to commit Wednesday's violence.

'I can say he's a good kid - he was a good kid, and I think the football messed him up,' Alonzo Adams told WCNC-TV. 

'He didn't talk much and he didn't bother nobody.' 

As a collegiate player, Adams credited his mother, Phyllis, as his motivation.

An auto accident left Phyllis Paden Adams in a wheelchair in 2010, according to multiple reports. Her current condition is not know, but at the time, Adams said he believed she would walk again.

'She will walk one day,' he told theTandD.com

'That's what we believe. You know, there is always hope.'

Outside of telling a few coaches and teammates, Adams kept the accident private for most of his final season at South Carolina State while he prepared for the NFL Draft Combine.

Throughout that process, he explained, Adams focused on his mother's perseverance.

'(My mother) is my motivation,' he said. 'We can look through life, and you go through adversity. This is one of the biggest things I have had to deal with. Right in the middle of football season. God was basically like, 'Are you going to fall or get back up and keep pushing?' I think I got back up, and my momma stays on me and is a big inspiration.

'We have to motivate each other,' he added. 

'I motivate her. She motivates me. Come on, let's go. She's a trooper. A real trooper. I have no doubt that she is going to build her strength back up.'

In May of 2010, after Adams had signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent, several NFL players helped put on a fund raiser for his mother, a teacher. 

Ultimately the group raised $15,000 for her care. 

'I'm just speechless,' Paden-Adams said from her wheelchair, as quoted by HeraldOnline.com. 'I've gotten more kisses than a pig at a kissing contest. It's been wonderful.' 

Adams' sister told USA Today that her brother's 'mental health degraded fast and terribly bad' in recent years and that the family noticed 'extremely concerning' signs of mental illness, including an escalating temper and personal hygiene neglect.

Lauren Adams, Phillip's sister
Former Cowboys player Kevin Smith

Phillip's sister, Lauren Adams (left) insisted that her brother was not 'a monster' and blamed his actions on his declining mental health. Former Cowboys player Kevin Smith (right) said Adams was working out too intensely 

Gerald Dixon, a former NFL linebacker who retired in 2001, said that, when he coached Adams in high school, the young player was a team leader, yet also mild-mannered and humble.

Dixon added that he had spoken to Adams a few months ago, and had noticed no signs of depression or other mental health issues. 

'Anytime I talked to him, he was always happy and just reminiscing about old things,' he said.

Dixon acknowledged that the repeated hits to the head sustained in the game could have affected Adams, as they have negatively affected many of the other NFL players Dixon has known who were later diagnosed with CTE.

'You never know what's going on in a person's mind after they've went through these concussions,' Dixon said.

Adams' agent Scott Casterline
Phillip Adams

Agent Scott Casterline (left) said former NFL player Phillip Adams, who on Wednesday shot and killed five people and the himself, said the 32-year-old was living with the disappointment of having his football career cut short by injuries 

Scott Casterline, Adams' agent, told the AP that Adams did not participate in the physical and mental health programs that are easily accessible for ex-players.

'We encouraged him to explore all of his disability options and he wouldn't do it,' Casterline said, noting that Adams' career was undercut by the 2010 ankle injury. 

'I knew he was hurting and missing football but he wouldn't take health tips offered to him. He said he would, but he wouldn't.'

Former Cowboys cornerback Kevin Smith trained with Adams leading up to the 2010 draft and after he entered the league. 

He said Adams never consumed alcohol and was a 'neat freak.' 

Both Smith and Casterline said Adams opened a smoothie and juice store before the coronavirus pandemic hit. 

Both emphasized how much Adams trained, even overworked. They said he didn't drink or do drugs. Smith mentioned he liked fast cars and drove too fast.

'I used to have to tell him you don't have to do so much,' Smith said. 'I would tell him it's about preserving your body because he'd want to work out three times a day.

'This is just shocking. Recently, our only communication was through Instagram and he was real short. He didn't say a whole lot. That was just him. He was such a good kid. 

'I didn't see mental issues outside of the fact that his pride was a double-edged sword. 

'What drove him, all the hard work, also worked against him.'

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