TAMPA — Former Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson suffered from Stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, his family said in a statement released Thursday by the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Jackson was found dead Feb. 15 in a Brandon hotel where he had been living since January. He was 38.
The family said it was releasing the findings of his brain study by the foundation’s brain bank to help raise awareness of CTE and its risks.
“Vincent dedicated so much of his life to helping others,” his widow, Lindsey Jackson, said in a statement. “By donating his brain ... we hope to continue to see advancements in CTE research, enabling physicians to diagnose the disease in the living and ultimately find treatment options in the future.”
According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a progressive degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive head trauma. Stage 2 symptoms include aggression, impulsivity, depression, anxiety, paranoia, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
“Vincent Jackson was a brilliant, disciplined, gentle giant whose life began to change in his mid-30s. He became depressed, with progressive memory loss, problem solving difficulties, paranoia, and eventually extreme social isolation,” said Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology for the VA Boston Healthcare System..
In February, family members told investigators they had “reason to believe (Jackson) may have suffered from chronic alcoholism and concussions,” according to a statement the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office made after Jackson was found dead.
The Jackson family on Thursday said they would have no further comment on his death.
Jackson was known as a civic leader and business owner involved in many charitable endeavors. His Jackson in Action 83 Foundation focused on helping the children of military families.
He was a three-time Pro Bowl receiver who signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Bucs in 2012 as a free agent from the Chargers. He had 540 career receptions for 9,080 yards and 57 touchdowns.
But in February, Jackson disappeared. Responding to a missing person’s report filed by Jackson’s family, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office finally located him on Feb. 11 at a Homewood Suites at the end of a cluster of hotels on South Falkenburg Road.
The family sought to file a petition under the Marchman Act. The Florida statute provides for emergency assistance and temporary detention to individuals requiring substance abuse evaluation and treatment.
But a couple of days later, a housekeeper at the hotel found Jackson dead in his room around 11:30 a.m. There were no apparent signs of trauma, the Sheriff’s Office said.
According to a preliminary case summary report by the Sheriff’s Office, there were no medications found in Jackson’s room. But a sheriff’s office source said numerous liquor bottles were discovered.
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“We thank the Jackson family for supporting CTE research after such a terrible tragedy,” said Chris Nowinski, CEO and co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation and a former football player at Harvard.
Nowinski said more than 300 NFL players have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
“I hope current and former NFL players of Mr. Jackson’s generation see this as a wake-up call and get off the sideline in the fight against CTE,” Nowinski said. “If a four-time Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee who never had a diagnosed concussion can lose his fight against CTE at just 38, it can happen to anyone.”
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