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Former NFL Player Lawrence Phillips Dead Of Apparent Jail Suicide

Lawrence Philips in 1999 (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Former NFL player Lawrence Phillips was found dead in a Kern County jail cell yesterday of an apparent suicide. Lawrence Phillips, 40, was found unresponsive by jail staff at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano at about 12:05 a.m. early Wednesday morning, according to a release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Phillips was pronounced dead at 1:27 a.m. at a hospital. Investigators believe he took his own life.

Phillips, who once played for the St. Louis Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, was sentenced to 31 years and four months in prison after being convicted of inflicting great bodily injury involving domestic violence, corporal injury to a spouse, false imprisonment and car theft.

He had been placed in an Administrative Segregation Unit since April 11, 2015, after he was suspected of murdering his cellmate, 37-year-old Damion Soward. Soward was serving what amounted to a life sentence for murder and was found strangled in his cell. Phillips was charged with Soward's murder in September of 2015. The trial for that crime was in its early stages.

Phillips had many run-ins with the law over the course of his life. He was accused of violence against women numerous times prior to his arrest in 2005 for driving a car into three teenagers on a field at Exposition Park. At that time, he was also wanted by the San Diego Police Department for two alleged instances of domestic abuse against his ex-girlfriend, one in which she said he had choked her until she blacked out. He was also accused of stealing her car, which was the same car he used in the incident in Exposition Park. He was also wanted by the LAPD for another alleged instance of domestic violence.

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Shortly before Soward's murder, Phillips wrote a letter to his mother stating that his anger was growing each day as he became more and more frustrated with prison. "I feel my anger is near bursting and that will result in my death or the death of someone else," he wrote, according to USA Today.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone, remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt, and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.