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Junior Seau had brain disease at time of suicide, tests show

January 10, 2013 |  7:10 am

Advanced tests done at the National Institutes of Health on the brain of football star Junior Seau, who committed suicide in May, showed he had signs of a degenerative brain disease, the Associated Press reported.

The examination of Seau's brain showed "abnormalities consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)," the kind of injury associated with repetitive head injuries, the AP said.

An initial autopsy on Seau performed by the San Diego County medical examiner found no apparent damage to his brain from years of football. But the Seau family, searching for a reason the 43-year-old Seau took his life, asked for a more in-depth examination by the NIH.

PHOTOS: Junior Seau | 1969 - 2012

Seau killed himself May 2 in his beachfront home in Oceanside with a gunshot to the chest. He left no note and his live-in girlfriend, who was at the gym at the time, told investigators he had given no indication that he was contemplating suicide.

The issue of brain injuries among football players has become controversial in recent years, with tests showing that two other NFL stars who committed suicide, Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, had CTE.

Seau was a star linebacker at Oceanside High, USC, the San Diego Chargers and other NFL teams. His death shocked his many fans and led to an unprecedented public show of grief.

The AP quoted Seau's ex-wife, Gina, and his 23-year-old son, Tyler, as saying Seau suffered from mood swings, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression.

"He emotionally detached himself and would kind of 'go away' for a little bit," Tyler Seau said. "And then the depression and things like that, it started to progressively get worse."

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

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