Former NFL player Lawrence Phillips died early Wednesday morning after being found unresponsive in his cell at Kern Valley State Prison in California, authorities said in a press release. He was 40 years old.
California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said that Phillips was pronounced dead at an outside hospital at roughly 1:30 a.m.
The death is being investigated as a suspected suicide.
Tom Osborne, who coached Phillips when he was at Nebraska, issued a statement to the Associated Press saying that his death was unexpected.
All his correspondence with me in spite of circumstances have been fairly upbeat ... didn't see that coming. He was very loyal to his friends and yet he had some anger issues and couldn't overcome the demons in his life. Things weren't going in a good direction for him. All I can say is I feel very bad. I guess we feel like we did what we could for him. Whatever it was, it wasn't enough.
The former Nebraska star, who played for the St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers during his tumultuous NFL career, had been serving a 31-year sentence since 2008 on charges including domestic violence, spousal abuse, false imprisonment and vehicle theft.
He had been held in solitary confinement since mid-2013, when he was suspected of killing his cellmate. If found guilty, Phillips may have faced the death penalty.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Phillips was found dead in his cell. He was found unresponsive and later pronounced dead at an outside hospital.
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