Lawrence Phillips' Autopsy Reveals Former Nebraska RB Hanged Himself in Prison

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2016

2 Jan 1996:  Running back Lawrence Phillips #1 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers carries the ball upfield against the Florida Gators in the Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.  Nebraska defeated Florida 62-24.   Mandatory Credit:  Mike Powell/Al
Mike Powell/Getty Images

An autopsy found that former University of Nebraska and NFL running back Lawrence Phillips hanged himself with a bed sheet in January at the Kern Valley State Prison in California.

Josh Peter of USA Today provided the details of the coroner's report Wednesday, which stated correctional officers found him unresponsive in his cell with a note reading "Do Not Resuscitate" taped to his chest.

Phillips was transferred to a nearby hospital before being pronounced dead. The coroner's report ruled his death a suicide by asphyxia due to hanging. It also said there were no illegal drugs or psychiatric medications in his body at the time of his death, according to USA Today.

The report noted the former football player was being held by himself in an administratively segregated unit while awaiting a trial after being charged with murder in the death of a cellmate. A correctional officer noticed his cell window was covered shortly after midnight and, after removing the towel blocking the view, found him seated with a ligature around his neck.

Kelly Wheeler of City News Service (via the Del Mar Times) reported in 2009 that Phillips was sentenced to 31 years in prison after separate incidents involving attacks on his girlfriend in San Diego and, in an unrelated incident, for striking three people with his car in Los Angeles after a dispute about a pickup football game.

Last September, Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News reported Phillips was facing a first-degree murder charge after his cellmate, Damion Soward, was strangled to death. Peter previously noted Kern County public defender T. Alan Rogers said his client had acted in self-defense.

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The running back rose to prominence during three years at Nebraska. The St. Louis Rams then drafted him with the sixth overall pick in 1996. He also spent time in NFL Europe, the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League before his playing career ended in 2003.

Phillips was 40 at the time of his death in January.