Hernandez is a former NFL star who played for the New England Patriots and was a standout collegiate player at the University of Florida.

According to a statement from Boston University that Hernandez’s brain was examined by Dr. Ann McKee, director of the BU CTE Center. The disease has symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s, including memory loss, confusion, aggression, rage and at times, suicidal behaviour. It is believed that repeated trauma to the head leads to CTE.

The disease is believed to have four stages with Hernandez being found to be in stage three of CTE. The third stage is commonly associated with memory loss, behavioural changes and impaired judgment. It is also believed that Hernandez’s brain showed early signs of degeneration of brain cells and large tears in the septum pellucidum, a central membrane of the brain.

The findings from the initial examination were confirmed by a second neuropathologist at Boston University.

CTE can be diagnosed only after death. Researchers are working on ways to detect it in the living with the hope of being able to treat it in the future.

Hernandez hanged himself in prison in April at the age of 27.