Former professional American football player Lawrence Phillips passed away Wednesday from an apparent suicide, he was forty years old. He was a standout college running back for the Nebraska Cornhuskers but his personal demons kept him from becoming a phenomenal professional player. During his seven year career in which he spent time playing in the National Football League, Canadian Football League, Arena Football League and NFL Europe, Phillips had problems where ever he went. Life after football was a tragic one as he had a variety of legal problems including felony assault, two counts of domestic assault and the murder of his cellmate.
Born on May 12, 1975 in Little Rock, Arkansas; Lawrence Phillips grew up in a series of foster homes but became a standout high school football player for Baldwin Park High School playing as a running back and linebacker. He accepted a scholarship to the University of Nebraska and after a quiet freshman year, Phillips had a phenomenal sophomore season gaining eighteen hundred rushing yards and scored sixteen touchdowns. His junior year was marred by his violent crime against his former girlfriend and the emergence of Ahman Green. After three seasons in Nebraska, Lawrence Phillips entered the 1996 NFL Draft as an underclassmen.
Despite all the red flags about his behavior whilst attending Nebraska, the St. Louis Rams drafted Lawrence Phillips in the first round with the number six pick. His tenure with the Rams lasted two tumultuous seasons before being cut. He was picked up off of waivers by the Miami Dolphins who released him after two games due to his rest for assaulting a woman at a night club. Phillips took a year off and revived his football career in 1999, playing for the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe where he set records for rushing yards and touchdowns.
His outstanding play in Barcelona caught the attention of the San Fransisco 49ers who signed him to a contract for the 1999 NFL season. Phillips started out with no problems and put up some decent playing numbers before his old habits began to turn up. After having problems with the coaching staff and his attitude off and on the field, he was suspended and later cut of the team. Lawrence Phillips bounced around the AFL and CFL before leaving football altogether after the 2003 CFL season.
Life after football was filled with nothing but trouble as he was arrested for violent assault in 2005 when he ran his truck into three teenagers following a pickup football game. In 2006 he was arrested for two separate domestic violence incidents with his former girlfriend. Three years later, Lawrence Phillips was sentenced to serve thirty-two years in California state prison for both cases. Whilst serving time in prison, he was charged with murdering his cellmate on April 12, 2015 and a few months later was officially indicted for the crime.
Lawrence Phillips was found dead in his cell on January 13, 2016 from an apparent suicide. His life is a text book example about how one’s personal demons can affect anyone, no matter how talented or physically gifted they are. According to his former head coach with the St. Louis Rams Dick Vermeil, Phillips was potentially the best running back he had ever coached. To learn more about the tragic life and times of Lawrence Phillips please visit the following sites: NFL, Pro Football Reference, ESPN, USA Today, Wikipedia and Omaha.