Lawrence Phillips, the troubled running back who is remembered as one of the great busts in the history of the NFL draft, is accused of murdering his prison cellmate.
Phillips, who is currently serving a 31-year sentence in a California state prison for convictions on charges including auto theft and spousal abuse, has now been named as the suspect in the death of his cellmate, a convicted murderer named Damion Soward.
NBC San Diego reports that prison officials confirmed today that they believe Phillips killed Soward, who was found unresponsive in his cell early Saturday morning and died on Sunday. Soward was one of two inmates murdered in the Kern Valley State Prison over the weekend. The other victim, a 41-year-old man, is also believed to have been killed by his cellmate.
Phillips was a superstar running back at Nebraska who was controversially allowed to keep playing for the Cornhuskers even after multiple run-ins with the law. His NFL career was a disaster: The Rams drafted Phillips with the sixth overall pick in 1996, but he was a constant troublemaker off the field and a bad player on the field, and the team cut him after two disappointing seasons. He briefly played for the Dolphins and 49ers after that; his most notable play was a missed block that led to Hall of Famer Steve Young taking a blindside hit and suffering a career-ending concussion.
Phillips has been incarcerated at Kern Valley State Prison since 2008.