The family of former USC safety Kevin Ellison, who died last week while walking along the Golden State (5) Freeway, will donate his brain for medical research, it was reported Monday.
Chris Ellison told the Los Angeles Times his brother’s brain will be donated to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center which conducts research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy and other long-term consequences of repetitive brain trauma in athletes and military personnel.
The school confirmed the 31-year-old Ellison’ death in a social media post Saturday with a simple hashtag: “#FightOnForever.”
Chris Ellison told The Times his brother was walking along the Golden State Freeway in the San Fernando Valley at the time of his death.
“He was disoriented and didn’t know where he was at,” Chris Ellison said. “I’m sure he was trying to come home and find his family. We love him so much.”
Kevin Ellison, who played 13 games for the San Diego Chargers in 2009, struggled with mental health issues for several years, his brother said.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Kevin Ellison was struck about 11:05 p.m. Thursday on the northbound side of the freeway, south of San Fernando Mission Boulevard, by a 1990 Chevrolet Astro van driven by a 51-year-old Palmdale man.
Ellison was “walking back and forth” in northbound lanes near the San Fernando Mission Boulevard off-ramp and was standing in the No. 2 lane when he was struck, the CHP reported.
Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to Los Angeles County coroner’s office records, his cause of death was pending additional investigation.
The Redondo Union High School graduate, who played for the Trojans from 2005 to 2008, was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection known for delivering hard hits. The Chargers drafted him in the sixth round in 2009.
“Kevin was liked and loved by everybody,” Chris Ellison said. “His smile and personality would light up a room.”
Kevin Ellison faced federal arson charges in 2012 while playing for the Arena Football League’s Spokane Shock after he caused $50,000 in damage by setting his bed on fire at the Big Trout Lodge in Liberty Lake, Washington. According to court records cited by The Times, Ellison said God told him to set the fire.
The case was eventually dismissed after Ellison was ordered to pay more than $80,000 in restitution.
Chris Ellison said his brother struggled with mental health issues in recent years.
“My mom and sister and dad and brother did everything they could,” Chris Ellison told The Times.
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