If you had met Jovan Belcher a few years ago, you would have encountered a young man with impressive ideals and actions to match them. Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, held a degree in child development and family relations from the University of Maine. During his time there, he joined the anti-violence group Male Athletes Against Violence. His coach there recalls a young man who had a tremendously positive impact on his team and the football community.
And yet, on Dec. 1, 2012, Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend in front of his mother and then killed himself in front of his head coach, Romeo Crennel, and the general manager of the Chiefs, Scott Pioli. He left behind a 3-month-old baby girl.
Stories and Research Agree: Repetitive Brain Injury Causes Serious Brain Damage
This tragic story is one of many terrible illustrations of how traumatic brain injury (TBI) can turn a vibrant individual into someone totally unrecognizable.
Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide came one day before the publication of a study in Brain showing brain damage in the autopsied brains of athletes and combat veterans. Eighty-five donor brains were examined. Sixty-eight of them had evidence of a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE has four stages:
- Headaches and problems with concentration
- Depression, aggression, explosive anger and short-term memory loss
- Serious cognitive impairment
- Full-blown dementia
Genetic factors and the number and severity of TBIs throughout a lifetime both likely play a role in the development of CTE.
Jovan Belcher may or may not have had CTE. The only way to tell for sure is to examine his brain. What we do know is that he had personality changes associated with TBI:
- Substance abuse
- Inability to control anger
And we know he had a job in which blows to the head are a matter of routine.
TBI Can Happen to Anyone
Traumatic brain injury is a serious matter, and it can occur without warning in sports, car crashes, falls or other accidents. The current events in football have brought attention and awareness to brain injury, but remember that athletes are not the only people whose lives are altered by TBI.
In a split-second, your life can be changed by brain injury and the consequences and treatment can be devastating and costly. Some of these costs include inability to work, physical and cognitive therapy and changes in or loss of relationships. If you have suffered a TBI, please contact us immediately as you may be eligible for the compen sation you need to help alleviate the financial strain of treatment and therapy. We provide a free consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate attorneys during which we will discuss your legal options.