Aaron Hernandez Attorney: Hernandez 'Was Struggling in a Deep, Dark Place'

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in 2012 puts on a Super Bowl cap following the AFC Championship NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough Mass

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez suffered from a severe form of the debilitating brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Boston University researchers announced on Thursday.

Attorney Jorge Baez said researchers determined Hernandez had "the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron's age".

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Hernandez's 4-year-old daughter on Thursday after Boston University officials found the former player had Stage 3 out of 4 CTE, usually found in a 67-year-old man.

The disease can only be diagnosed posthumously at this time through the study of brain tissue.

Dr. Ann McKee, director of the CTE Center at Boston University, conducted the examination of Hernandez's brain and discovered "classic features of CTE in the brain". He was still serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, his fiancée's sister's boyfriend.

McKee's research shows "CTE is associated with aggressiveness, explosiveness, impulsivity, depression, memory loss and other cognitive changes".

Last year, Journal of the American Medical Association released a study that had examined 111 brains of deceased former National Football League players: All but one were found to have had the disease. The question is whether the NFL can be held responsible for the CTE findings, considering Hernandez also played high school football in CT before taking on a starring role with the University of Florida.

Hernandez, who was from CT, was 27 when he hanged himself in prison earlier this year. "We're not suggesting anything, " Baez said in April when asked if brain damaged had contributed to Hernandez's suicide.

Their suit claims the NFL, as well as the Patriots, were more than aware of the severity of damage that could be done due to football.

Hernandez stopped playing football at the age of 23. Days before he died he was acquitted of an unrelated July 2012 double murder.

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