Former Rams first-round draft pick commits suicide in prison

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Lawrence Phillips, arrested in 2006 on assault charge. (Los Angeles Sheriff's Department)

Lawrence Phillips, arrested in 2006 on assault charge. (Los Angeles Sheriff's Department)

SACRAMENTO, CA (KTVI) - Lawrence Phillips, the Rams' much-heralded first-round draft pick in 1996, died in prison Wednesday; suicide is suspected. He was 40.

Phillips had been jailed in 2005 and later convicted of domestic abuse incidents involving his girlfriend and also assault with a deadly weapon for driving his car into three teenagers following a pickup football game in Los Angeles. At the time, he was sentenced to more than 31 years in prison.

According to a Kern Valley State Prison spokesperson, Phillips' body was found just after midnight during a security check. He was pronounced dead just before 1:30 a.m.

In April 2013, Phillips was accused of killing his cellmate at the same prison. He'd been remanded to a single-cell since that incident.

Phillips played for the St. Louis Rams until 1997, when he was cut by the team due to off-the-field issues and arrests. He later played for the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers. The Rams had such high hopes for Phillips when they drafted him that the team traded away future Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.