Take a quick glance back at the life of Lawrence Phillips and it’s not hard to imagine how he ended up residing in a California prison.
If it was uncontrollable rage that drove Phillips to succeed on the football field, it was fueled by an unsettling mixture of abuse, neglect and a lack of trust in others during his formative years.
When news broke this week accusing the former University of Nebraska, National Football League, NFL Europe, and Canadian Football League running back of murdering a cellmate, you’d have been hard-pressed to find anyone surprised at such allegations.
His rap sheet speaks for itself.
There’s the domestic violence against a cheating girlfriend in college, followed by more violence against women over the ensuing years. Then the speeding ticket and drunk driving charge upon the start of his professional football career with the St. Louis Rams. And ultimately, the conviction that came from running over three teenagers whom he suspected of stealing from him following a pickup football game.
And now, nearly 10 years deep into a 31-year sentence there’s still more trouble ahead. Looking back though, it seems as if Phillips was destined for an outcome such as this after having spent his younger years in foster care, detention centers and a group home.
It’s unlikely that Phillips will ever be remembered for helping the Cornhuskers win two national championships, dominating NFL Europe in 1999 while with the Barcelona Dragons, or winning a Grey Cup in 2002 with the Montreal Alouettes anymore than he’ll be remembered for his off-the-field troubles.
It’s enough to make you wonder what we’re doing as a society to ensure another Lawrence Phillips isn’t growing up among us.