Lawrence Phillips accused of murdering his prison cellmate

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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.

121 responses to “Lawrence Phillips accused of murdering his prison cellmate

  1. Really sounds like a sad situation. Considering the number of deaths in prisons at the hands of guards who are never charged with anything, I will try to withhold judgment for now.

  2. 31 years for spousal abuse and auto theft seems harsh. But maybe the judge knew something.

  3. In case you were wondering how a car thief/wife beater gets a 31-year sentence and paired up with a murderer for a cell mate, here are a few more details on Phillips incarceration. He got 10 years for assault with a deadly weapon after driving a car into 3 teenagers following an argument at a pickup football game. The spousal abuse and car theft charges were tried after he was already in jail for hitting the kids with his car.

  4. it’s kill or be killed in that environment … next time he may not see the same outcome ….

  5. If all the murderers in the U.S. killed another murderer, there would only be one murderer left in the country. Sounds like a good idea to me. They should get right on that.

  6. After Aaron Hernandez and Lawrence Phillips…Cecil Collins is suddenly starting to look like a pretty decent guy.

  7. I still remember one of my friends who was a Nebraska fan telling me how the Huskers’ coach was just trying to give the young, disadvantaged man a chance by keeping him on the team.

  8. As a Rams fan, I look back in shame and disgust that I actually cheered for this guy. Nevermore, though, will a support a team with bad guys on it.

  9. Since de facto there is no death penalty in California, and unlikely to ever be, what did he have to lose? The unlikely chance that he would survive to get out of jail in his sixties?

  10. In civil law we sometimes hear the phrase “judgement proof”. This happens when lowlifes don’t have any assets, and so don’t worry about losing civil cases.

    This seems pretty much the same situation, but on the criminal side.

    According to Wikipedia, since his crimes harmed other people, Phillips was required to serve 85% of his original sentence. To most people a 26 year sentence is pretty close to “life”. So there’s very little carrot left to control bad behavior.

    Yes, of course, there are other punishments, including solitary confinement. But California doesn’t have the death penalty (at least currently).

  11. And people are surprised because? This is prison. If you manage to not at least hurt somebody during a 31 year sentence…you’ve done good.

  12. “Stay classy Nebraska.”
    ———————————-

    You’re right, Nebraska is at fault for Lawrence Phillips. Just like your state is at fault for you.

  13. I remember reading an article about him saying that he had sunk to his lowest point in life…. Looks like he found a new point….

  14. He’s a prisoner anyways.

    He has no future regardless.

    He should be innocent until proven guilty, but how can he be respectable even if he’s done serving time??

  15. He even played for Montreal in the CFL but I don’t think that turned out too well either.

    What a mess this guys life has turned out to be.

  16. insightfulcomments says:
    Apr 13, 2015 7:26 PM

    Really sounds like a sad situation. Considering the number of deaths in prisons at the hands of guards who are never charged with anything, I will try to withhold judgment for now.
    ————-
    Really sounds like you never spent any time in prison, on either side. However, we anxiously await your judgement.

  17. revelation123 says:

    “You’re right, Nebraska is at fault for Lawrence Phillips. Just like your state is at fault for you.”

    **

    Let’s not forget or ignore the fact that coach Tom Osborne @ Nebraska made a bad decision, and that Phillips draft stock was high as a result.

  18. insightfulcomments says:
    Apr 13, 2015 7:26 PM
    Really sounds like a sad situation. Considering the number of deaths in prisons at the hands of guards who are never charged with anything, I will try to withhold judgment for now

    Sounds like you already made your judgement. About what, that’s anyones guess. More convicted murderers die tripping over the cord to change channels on their cable tvs than are killed by guards. More convicted murderers on death row die of old age than die at the hands of guards of the state. But catch your breath, (I can’t breathe) and compose something that makes sense. .

  19. Between this guy, Richie Incognito, Dominic Raiola, Alfonzo Dennard, and probably a lot of others who escape me at the moment, Nebraska sure knows how to keep it classy. Tom Osborne was and is the definition of the hypocritical person who will tell anyone who would listen about how character and morals come before winning while keeping complete scumbags on the team because he truly valued winning above all else.

  20. So many just like him in the league. Really hope we can completely eradicate this element before they become stars in the future. Character counts.

  21. tokyosandblaster says:
    Apr 13, 2015 7:23 PM
    One of the great busts in history?

    Must have been drafted by Rick Spielman

    we he wasnt was he? take off your green bay glasses

  22. And to think Art Modell wanted to draft this guy. Instead, Ozzie prevailed and we got HOF LT Jonathan Ogden. Twenty-two picks later, Ozzie strikes again with HOF LB Ray Lewis. Not shabby.

  23. Shoot, he should have been convicted of something when he missed that block on Aeneas Williams that led to the death of Steve Young’s career.

  24. What a fine decision by the Rams coaching staff and front office. Let’s
    get rid of that no- good Jerome Bettis and draft Lawrence Philips.
    As a long time Pittsburgh fan we thank you. A great trade by Tom
    Donahoe. Bettis helped the Steelers to a Super Bowl and goes on to
    the Hall Of Fame.

  25. Reminds me of a scene in the move The Dark Knight where the Joker takes over as the crime lord and breaks a pool stick in half and says to the two henchmen the lets have tryouts. Looks like Lawrence Philipps took it literally. Oh well prison justice love it as Phillips did the California tax payer a favor by killing this murderer. Now one less body for the state to house and feed.

  26. At least he won his National Championship at Nebraska’ despite beating his girlfriend to a pulp.

  27. Wow what suckers we are. We pay billions of dollars on these “correctional” institutions, and the politicians make us feel like we’re being “tough on crime” for doing it. Stop complaining about politicians. We’re the dummies.

  28. ravenmadnky says:
    Apr 13, 2015 8:38 PM
    And to think Art Modell wanted to draft this guy. Instead, Ozzie prevailed and we got HOF LT Jonathan Ogden. Twenty-two picks later, Ozzie strikes again with HOF LB Ray Lewis. Not shabby

    ——————————

    Unfortunately, a murderer that didn’t make it to prison.

  29. ravenmadnky says:
    Apr 13, 2015 8:38 PM
    And to think Art Modell wanted to draft this guy. Instead, Ozzie prevailed and we got HOF LT Jonathan Ogden. Twenty-two picks later, Ozzie strikes again with HOF LB Ray Lewis. Not shabby.

    ———————————–

    So what you’re saying is, either way, you were still coming out of that draft with a murderer. Allegedly.

  30. “thelinestartsheretokissmyass says:
    Apr 13, 2015 8:08 PM

    insightfulcomments says:
    Apr 13, 2015 7:26 PM
    Really sounds like a sad situation. Considering the number of deaths in prisons at the hands of guards who are never charged with anything, I will try to withhold judgment for now

    Sounds like you already made your judgement. About what, that’s anyones guess. More convicted murderers die tripping over the cord to change channels on their cable tvs than are killed by guards. More convicted murderers on death row die of old age than die at the hands of guards of the state. But catch your breath, (I can’t breathe) and compose something that makes sense. .”

    So you question the validity of the first comment by apparently making up stats of your own as if somehow, magically yours are “right” and the others are “wrong” and don’t “make sense”. Classic. Sounds more like a knee-jerk reply based on emotion rather than reality.

  31. Vermeil didn’t draft Phillips, he inherited him from the previous regime (Ortmeyer/Rich Brooks). Vermeil did cry when he had to cut him from the team.

    Eddie George proved to be the better player on and off the field.

  32. I’m a Rams fan and that was the first draft I ever attended. I was so excited that Eddie George fell to us at #6. My disappointed in drafting Phillips quickly turned to excitement when I realized Marvin Harrison was still available when our second first round pick came up.

    “With the 18th pick in the first round, the St. Louis Rams select wide receiver…….Eddie Kennison LSU.

    @#!@$@$!!!#@$@#

    We made up for it a few years later though.

  33. I don’t condone anything illegal this man has done but as noted already, you get 7 years for raping women and 31 for car theft and domestic violence. That is not a good look for society and the message sent to women.

  34. So what you’re saying is, either way, you were still coming out of that draft with a murderer. Allegedly.

    Got to thumbs up this one again…

    Very odd to use Ray Lewis as a shining example of HOF character…he should be swept under the rug and forgotten…

  35. theclebrowns says:
    Apr 13, 2015 7:36 PM
    If all the murderers in the U.S. killed another murderer, there would only be one murderer left in the country. Sounds like a good idea to me. They should get right on that.

    —————

    What a great concept.

    I hope that this gets passed around and or Press one day. Maybe in a movie or better yet, a movie made.

  36. redgonewild says:
    Apr 13, 2015 9:24 PM
    So what you’re saying is, either way, you were still coming out of that draft with a murderer. Allegedly.

    _______________

    See, I think his point was FIRST you go get your HOF LT, THEN you draft you murderer. The Rams goofed it and went murderer first. Silly Rams.

  37. This would leave him just one away from the NFL record currently shared by O.J. Simpson and Marvin Lewis.

  38. So much for people can change

    I remember seeing Lawrence Phillips in NFL Europe, he had a great year for the Barcelona Dragons, think he was the first 1000 yard rusher in the leagues history (they only played 10 games a season).

    Got picked up by the Niners, he even had one 100 yard game for them but yes as pointed out he infamously missed that block which led to Steve Young retiring.

    But this news sadly doesnt surprise me, he hasnt changed. Always been a troublemaker. Sad in a way that he had such potential, another idiot who threw it away

  39. A perfect example of a guy with tons of talent and who was given endless chances, but was just too much of a bad dude to ever stay out of trouble off the field – not to mention his extremely poor attitude toward his coaches that seemed to keep cropping up, as well.

  40. Kern Valley is far from a country club prison. Whoever mentioned that earlier is misguided. Two murders in one weekend…in a level IV Maximum security prison and this guy calls it a “cupcake” prison. -Smh

  41. All the draft “experts” in ’96 had The Ravens drafting Philips with the 4th pick. They drafted HOFer J. Ogden instead. Sometimes you win, sometimes, (Rams), you lose.

  42. “cbass59 says:
    Apr 14, 2015 7:35 AM
    Maybe Tom Osborne should have suspended him for more than a half of a game. Anything to win…”
    ===========================================

    He actually got half a game? The normal “punishment” from Osborne was running a few extra laps after practice… around the end zone. Osborne’s renegade program (and Barry Switzer at OU) made Urban Meyer look like a church choir in comparison. Hernandez and Percy Harvin would have fit right in at Nebraska.

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