He was already serving a lengthy prison sentence; now onetime St. Louis Rams running back Lawrence Phillips is being charged with murder in the death of his cellmate. Phillips was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend and other charges in 2006.
The new charges against Phillips, 40, stem from the death of his fellow inmate at the Kern Valley State Prison in California this past spring. Officials are accusing Phillips of strangling Damion Soward, 37.
The AP reports, "Phillips is serving a sentence of more than 31 years. He was convicted of choking his girlfriend and later of driving his car into three teens after a pickup football game."
Phillips played in the NFL for three seasons; he had been a first-round pick out of the University of Nebraska.
During his college career at Nebraska, Phillips was an integral part of two national championship teams, in 1994 and 1995. But he also embroiled the school in controversy over its handling of his off-field behavior. When Phillips became an NFL player in 1996, he was on probation for assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
During his NFL career, Phillips ran for 1,453 yards. Perhaps his most important role in the league was as a catalyst that led the St. Louis Rams to trade another running back, Jerome Bettis, to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In addition to the Rams, Phillips played for the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers.
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