Ex-NFL player Phillip Adams killed himself Thursady at home in South Carolina, after wiping out a doctor neighbor and his family – before the turning the gun on himself
Adams, 32, battled concussion problems during his NFL career before allegedly killing five people and injuring one more in South Carolina, and committing suicide on Thursday
Victims were identified as the shooter’s former doctor, Robert Lesslie, 70, Bhis wife Barbara Lesslie, 69, and grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5.
A fifth victim James Lewis, 38, was found dead outside. He had been working at the family’s home for an air conditioning and heating repair company.
Robert Shook, who was working alongside Lewis for the same company, was also shot and is in critical condition
Thursday Adams’s father Alonzo said he blames football for what happened to his 32-year-old son: ‘I can say he’s a good kid. I think football messed him up’
Adams suffered at least two concussions while playing for the Raiders in 2012, although he missed only one game because of the brain injuries
Adams was arrested for assault and battery in 2009 but he was not convicted
Former NFL cornerback Phillip Adams, 32, committed suicide in South Carolina, early Thursday. Adams who suffered several concussions during his football career, is accused of killing his doctor and four others before taking his own life.
The Associated Press reported that Adams’s parents lived near his victims, who included Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, as well as two of their grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and 5-year-old Noah Lesslie.
Given the alleged killer’s history of concussions in his playing days, some people are left if the murder spree was somehow linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, [CTE}, the degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.
The victims were identified as the shooter’s former doctor, Robert Lesslie, 70, Bhis wife Barbara Lesslie, 69, and grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5.
Police said James Lewis, 38, was found dead outside. He had been working at the family’s home for an air conditioning and heating repair company. Sheriff Kevin Tolson said Robert Shook, who was working alongside Lewis for the same company, was also shot and is in critical condition.
Police went to the nearby home of Adams’ parents and tried to get Phillip Adams to surrender. His parents were later evacuated. Once inside, police found Adams dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The former pro-footballer has run a gauntlet of troubles, in the past he has also been arrested for assault and carrying a concealed weapon, according to records. Before turning pro, Adams was arrested for misdemeanor assault and battery in 2009, although he was not convicted. He was also arrested in Charlotte for carrying a concealed gun in 2016.
On Thursday, Adams’s father Alonzo told Charlotte, North Carolina station WCNC that he blames football for what happened to his son.
‘I can say he’s a good kid,’ Alonzo Adams said. ‘I think the football messed him up.’
Alonzo Adams did not go into further detail, but Phillip suffered at least two concussions over three games while playing for the Oakland Raiders in 2012.
One of those concussions occurred in a game against Cleveland when Adams collided with a teammate while hauling in an interception. He was later asked by Raiders.com to describe what was going through his head on the play.
‘I don’t know,’ Adams said.
‘I couldn’t tell you, but my teammates, the whole secondary we’re all going for that ball in the heat of the battle. I was kind of woozy, but, we got the turnover and I was happy about that.’
However, Adams missed only one game because of the brain injuries and it is not clear if he suffered any long-term effects from the concussions. He was not eligible for testing under the league’s broad $1 billion concussion settlement with players because he had not retired prior to the 2014 season.
Adams, a cornerback out of South Carolina State, was a seventh-round NFL Draft pick in 2010.
Although he was never a standout in the league, he did play regularly over six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Raiders, New York Jets, and Atlanta Falcons. His best seasons came in his two years in Oakland, where he appeared in 31 games and recorded a pair of interceptions. He also had success as a punt returner.
Adams earned just over $3 million over parts of his six NFL season, according to Spotrac.com.
Former Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie described Adams as a team player to USA Today.
‘I remember him being appreciative; a gracious that-he-was-on-the-team kind of guy,’ McKenzie said. ‘A very hard worker … I never had a coach, trainer, strength coach or teammate say they had any issue with him.
‘He was a non-issue guy. He just wasn’t talented enough. That’s why he bounced around. He got opportunities, though, because he worked hard.’
As a collegiate player, Adams credited his mother as his motivation.
An auto accident left Phyllis Paden Adams in a wheelchair in 2010, according to multiple reports. Her current condition is not known, but at the time, Adams said he believed she would walk again.
‘She will walk one day,’ he said at the time.
‘That’s what we believe. You know, there is always hope.’
Outside of telling a few coaches and teammates, Adams kept the accident private for most of his final season at South Carolina State while he prepared for the NFL Draft Combine.
Throughout that process, he explained, Adams focused on his mother’s perseverance.
‘(My mother) is my motivation,’ he said.
‘We can look through life, and you go through adversity. This is one of the biggest things I have had to deal with. Right in the middle of football season’.
‘God was basically like, ‘Are you going to fall or get back up and keep pushing?
‘I think I got back up, and my momma stays on me and is a big inspiration.
‘We have to motivate each other,’ he added.
‘I motivate her. She motivates me. Come on, let’s go. She’s a trooper. A real trooper. I have no doubt that she is going to build her strength back up.’
He is the second former NFL player to be accused of murder this week, following ex-New York Giants receiver Travis Rudolph, who was arrested on first-degree murder charges in Florida.
Adams was reportedly a patient of Lesslie, who worked for decades as an emergency room doctor. It is not known publicly why Lesslie was treating Adams, or if any head injury was involved.
Concussions have not been definitively linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.
CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously. Several former NFL players who were diagnosed with CTE died by suicide, including Adams’s former Patriots teammate, Aaron Hernandez, who hanged himself in prison following a murder conviction.
So far the cause of CTE among former athletes has not been definitively established.
‘We don’t know why people get CTE’., medical researchers say.
‘I think the most that it’s been looked at is in football players, but all that we know is what the brain looks like after they die. We don’t know what happens during people’s lives. We also don’t know how the findings correlate with people’s symptoms.’
There is no established connection between football and CTE, nor is there a proven link between concussions and CTE: ‘There’s a lot of research that needs to be done to fill in the blanks there,’ an NFL spokesperson said.
To many, the 2017 Boston University CTE Center study that posthumously diagnosed 110 out of 111 former NFL players with the disease seemed rather convincing, if not conclusive.
According to Lee E. Goldstein, a professor at Boston University School of Medicine and College of Engineering, concussions may not be an indicator for CTE, which can lead to lead to behavioral or cognitive issues, and even dementia.
‘We have a substantial number of cases in the [brain] bank who have died and meet the neuropathological diagnostic criteria for CTE, and have never had a concussion,’ Goldstein told DailyMail.com in 2019.
‘We see these young people…17-year olds with evidence of CTE,’ he continued. ‘There shouldn’t be any evidence of any neurodegenerative disease at that age. We know that we have quite a number of cases in people of that age, early 20s or late teens, who have never had a witnessed, documented concussion in their life.’