Published: Wed, June 27, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Autopsy reveals Tyler Hilinski had CTE, family says

Autopsy reveals Tyler Hilinski had CTE, family says

"I remember being kind of numb because you don't think your son is going to die, you certainly don't think he is going to kill himself, and you don't think you have to give his brain to the Mayo Clinic for [a post-mortem medical examination]", she told Sports Illustrated. Head injuries, CTE, and football have been linked before: "In a convenience sample of 202 deceased players of American football from a brain donation program, CTE was neuropathologically diagnosed in 177 players across all levels of play (87%), including 110 of 111 former National Football League players (99%)", according to the results of an original investigation by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"It was a shock to get those results and find out that he had it, and to realize that this sport that he loved may have contributed to that diagnosis", Kym Hilinski said. The boy suffered multiple concussions while playing football, and his brain was the earliest evidence of CTE yet found in a human brain.

Mark and Kym Hilinski have spoken to their younger son, Ryan, a high school quarterback committed to play at SC in 2019, about the results of Tyler's autopsy.

Hilinski was a promising quarterback for the Cougars and was barely two weeks removed from his junior season when police say he shot himself in the head January 16. "I don't think he'd want me to stop". The autopsy findings showed Stage 1 CTE.

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The Mayo Clinic found tau protein in Hilinski's brain, which is considered to be the hallmark of CTE.

"We were in complete shock", the quarterback's father, Mark, said on "Today".

"Was that the only thing that contributed to his death? I don't know", Kym Hilinski said in the documentary. His most memorable outing came in the second week of the season, when he led Washington State from a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Boise State 47-44 in triple overtime. The interview comes alongside the debut of a new Sports Illustrated documentary about the family's search for answers. On one hand, they intend to be supportive of Ryan.

"He was goofy and amusing, and hilarious half the time, but we didn't see it at all", his father said. They've created a nonprofit called the Hilinski's Hope Foundation. "They need it. There's not enough out there for these attractive athletes that give of themselves to their colleges, but their minds aren't taken care of".

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