Former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, who took his own life in January 2018, has tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the brain disorder commonly caused by concussions. He was 21 when he died.
Hilinski, who passed away Jan. 16, had the lowest level of CTE, per a report from Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated. The diagnosis was revealed after his family opted to send his brain to the Mayo Clinic for testing. As Bishop writes of the family receiving the results:
Kym (Hilinski's mother) read the first sentence—"After reviewing the tissue we can confirm that he had the pathology of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)"—and started to reconsider her entire search. The diagnosis was Stage I, the lowest level. But still, Tyler had been just 21, he hadn't played that much in college and for most of his life he manned the most protected of positions. If he had CTE, anyone could. She read that depression was one symptom for Stage 1 and a doctor told her Tyler's brain looked "like that of a much older, elderly man."
His toxicology report showed no trace of drugs or alcohol. The family does not blame football, but the results are the "only known factor in his death," per the report.
Hilinski took a redshirt year in 2015. He became the team's backup quarterback in 2016 and got his first real action this past season. He completed 130 of 179 attempted passes and totaled 1,176 yards, seven touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He was expected to be the team's starter this coming season.