Ryan Freel, the former Cincinnati Reds baseball player known for always giving up his body to make tumbling and diving catches in the outfield, became the first Major League Baseball player to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can only be done after someone’s death.
Freel committed suicide last December. He was 36.
According to CNN, Freel had at least 10 concussions while playing the game, and a Boston University School of Medicine test found that “he had Stage 2 CTE, which is associated with erratic behavior and memory loss. Stage 4, the worst possible expression of the disease, is associated with full-blown dementia, aggression and paranoia.”
“The real important issue is that he hit his head multiple times — small hits, big hits, in baseball and outside of baseball,” said Robert Stern, co-founder of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at BU. “When it comes to the development of CTE, our current sense is that it requires repetitive brain trauma and not just a couple of big concussions.”