Tyler Hilinski, former Upland High grad and Washington State QB, had CTE before committing suicide, parents say

Tyler Hilinski, the late Washington State quarterback, was found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease linked with football players, according to an autopsy conducted by the Mayo Clinic.

The parents of Hilinski revealed the autopsy results in a story and documentary published Tuesday morning by Sports Illustrated and later in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.

“Did football kill Tyler? I don’t think so,” Kym Hilinski, his mother, told SI. “Did he get CTE from football? Probably. Was that the only thing that attributed to his death? I don’t know.”

Hilinski committed suicide on Jan. 16 in his apartment in Pullman, Wash. Police said the 21-year-old had shot himself in the head with a teammate’s .223 caliber rifle. Before he was found dead, teammates and coaches had grown concerned when he did not arrive for a weightlifting workout.

The former Upland High quarterback was expected to become the Cougars’ starting signal caller in the fall as a fourth-year junior.

The diagnosis showed Hilinski had Stage 1 CTE, the lowest level. Mark Hilinski, his father, told “Today,” that the medical examiner said Tyler’s brain resembled that of a 65-year-old person.

“It was a shock to get those results,” Kym added in the interview, “and find out that he had it (CTE) and to realize the sport that he loved may have contributed to that diagnosis.”

  • Approximately 1,000 people, including the entire Washington State University football team, attended a memorial service for former Upland High School graduate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at Damien High School in La Verne. Helinski took his own life on January 16 in Washington state. Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG

    Approximately 1,000 people, including the entire Washington State University football team, attended a memorial service for former Upland High School graduate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at Damien High School in La Verne. Helinski took his own life on January 16 in Washington state. Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG

  • Tyler Hilinski’s mother Kim is embraced during a memorial service for her late son Saturday in La Verne. Approximately 1,000 people, including the entire Washington State University football team, attended a memorial service for former Upland High School graduate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at Damien High School in La Verne. Helinski took his own life on January 16 in Washington state. Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG

    Tyler Hilinski’s mother Kim is embraced during a memorial service for her late son Saturday in La Verne. Approximately 1,000 people, including the entire Washington State University football team, attended a memorial service for former Upland High School graduate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at Damien High School in La Verne. Helinski took his own life on January 16 in Washington state. Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG

  • Sound
    The gallery will resume inseconds
  • Tyler Hilinski’s brother Ryan speaks about the former Upland High School and Washington State University quarterback during his memorial service Saturday in La Verne. Approximately 1,000 people, including the entire Washington State University football team, attended a memorial service for former Upland High School graduate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at Damien High School in La Verne. Helinski took his own life on January 16 in Washington state. Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG

    Tyler Hilinski’s brother Ryan speaks about the former Upland High School and Washington State University quarterback during his memorial service Saturday in La Verne. Approximately 1,000 people, including the entire Washington State University football team, attended a memorial service for former Upland High School graduate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at Damien High School in La Verne. Helinski took his own life on January 16 in Washington state. Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG

  • Members of the Washington State University football team leave the Damien High School gymnasium following a memorial service for teammate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday in La Verne. Approximately 1,000 people, including the entire Washington State University football team, attended a memorial service for former Upland High School graduate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at Damien High School in La Verne. Helinski took his own life on January 16 in Washington state. Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG

    Members of the Washington State University football team leave the Damien High School gymnasium following a memorial service for teammate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday in La Verne. Approximately 1,000 people, including the entire Washington State University football team, attended a memorial service for former Upland High School graduate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at Damien High School in La Verne. Helinski took his own life on January 16 in Washington state. Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG

  • Items are left at a makeshift memorial for Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski outside Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.. (Geoff Crimmins/The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via AP)

    Items are left at a makeshift memorial for Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski outside Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.. (Geoff Crimmins/The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via AP)

  • Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski (3) walks on the field after an NCAA college football game against Nevada in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

    Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski (3) walks on the field after an NCAA college football game against Nevada in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

  • Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski (3) hugs teammate wide receiver CJ Dimry after an an NCAA college football game against Boise State in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

    Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski (3) hugs teammate wide receiver CJ Dimry after an an NCAA college football game against Boise State in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

  • Upland High School head football coach Tim Salter attends the memorial service for former player Tyler Hilinski on Saturday in La Verne. Approximately 1,000 people, including the entire Washington State University football team, attended a memorial service for former Upland High School graduate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at Damien High School in La Verne. Helinski took his own life on January 16 in Washington state. Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG

    Upland High School head football coach Tim Salter attends the memorial service for former player Tyler Hilinski on Saturday in La Verne. Approximately 1,000 people, including the entire Washington State University football team, attended a memorial service for former Upland High School graduate Tyler Hilinski on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at Damien High School in La Verne. Helinski took his own life on January 16 in Washington state. Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG

of

Expand

CTE can only be diagnosed post-mortem, though symptoms include cognitive problems, depression and mood swings. The parents said Tyler showed no obvious signs in the days before committing suicide.

Ryan Hilinski, the younger brother of Tyler, is a rising senior quarterback at Orange Lutheran High and currently committed to South Carolina.

In the SI documentary, Ryan said his brother’s CTE diagnosis “scared me a little bit,” but he planned to continue playing football.

“I think Tyler would want me to do the same thing,” Ryan said. “I don’t think he’d want me to stop.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.