Lawrence Phillips’ sad tale came to a tragic end on Wednesday. The troubled former NFL running back was found dead in prison, according to a press release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Phillips was 40.
The death is being investigated as a suspected suicide. According to the press release, Phillips was found unresponsive at 12:05 a.m. on Wednesday when the staff at Kern Valley State Prison was conducting security checks. He was transported to an outside hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:27 a.m.
Phillips had been serving 31 years for two separate incidents. In 2005 he twice choked his girlfriend. Later that year he attacked three teens with his car after a pickup football game. He was in prison for inflicting great bodily injury involving domestic violence, corporal injury to a spouse, false imprisonment and vehicle theft.
Phillips was also facing murder charges for killing his cellmate, 37-year-old Damion Soward, who was strangled to death at Kern Valley State Prison last April. Phillips was charged with first-degree murder in September. The CDCR release said Phillips was in the first stages of his trial in Soward’s death.
Phillips had a rocky life, and that included his NFL career. He found himself in trouble at the University of Nebraska, including a suspension for an incident in which he allegedly dragged his ex-girlfriend by her hair down a flight of stairs. Phillips was still drafted sixth overall by the St. Louis Rams in 1996. After unproductive play on the field and more trouble off it, the Rams cut him. He played briefly with the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins before he was out of the NFL for good after the 1999 season. He averaged just 3.4 yards in the NFL. He tried playing in the Arena Football League, NFL Europe, the Canadian Football League, but never caught on for very long in any of those leagues.