Autopsy reveals Hilinski had CTE

San Diego California.                        Sean M. Haffey  Getty

San Diego California. Sean M. Haffey Getty

Tyler Hillinski played high school football at Upland and was expected to contend for the starting job at Washington State this fall.

A Mayo Clinic report on Tyler's brain came back positive for CTE, which one study found was in the brains of 99 percent of 202 deceased National Football League players.

"It was a shock to get those results and find out he had [CTE] and to realize that this sport that he loved may have contributed to that diagnosis", Kym said on the Today Show. Did we get CTE from playing football? Tyler's younger brother, Ryan, is committed to play football at USC.

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Hilinski was just 21 years old when he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after not showing up for practice on January 16. "I don't think he'd want me to stop".

The diagnosis was Stage 1 CTE, the lowest level. "I don't think so", said Kym during the segment in a voiceover, which featured footage that showed Hilinski on the field with his teammates.

"The medical examiner said he had the brain of 65-year-old, which is really hard to take", Mark said during the interview. Probably. Was that the only thing that attributed to his death?

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The SI story and documentary offer intimate portraits of a family's search for answers as it processes unfathomable grief. His most memorable outing came in the second week of the season, when he led Washington State from a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Boise State 47-44 in triple overtime. "I'm going to do everything that Tyler wanted to do with football". Ryan Hilinski was noted as a star quarterback at his high school in California and is set to play at the University of SC with the support of his parents. Kym said in the documentary. "So I have to do what most moms do and just hide what I feel".

The staggering findings accompany Sports Illustrated's reporting on Hilinski's well-being and condition at the time of his death, including that a doctor told Tyler's mother that his brain looked "like that of a much older, elderly man".

The Hilinskis made a decision to go public with their story so they can help others.

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The family has started the Hilinski's Hope Foundation to raise awareness about mental health wellness for student-athletes. "They need it. There's not enough out there for these lovely athletes that give of themselves to their colleges, but their minds aren't taken care of".

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