Brett LoGiurato
Monday December 16th, 2013

Ryan Freel is the first former baseball player to have been determined to have CTE. (Eliot J. Schechter/Major League Baseball via Getty Images) Ryan Freel is the first former baseball player to have been determined to have CTE. (Eliot J. Schechter/Major League Baseball via Getty Images)

Ryan Freel, the former Major League Baseball player who committed suicide last year, was suffering from the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy at the time of his death.

His family said that Freel was suffering from CTE on Sunday at a private mass, The Florida Times-Union's Justin Barney reported. A report from the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephlopathy and Sports Legacy Institute was shown to Freel's family and the league last week at the MLB Winter Meetings, according to the report.

Freel was found dead in his home last December, the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, leaving behind three young children. He was just 36 years old.

For his family, the report provided some closure.

"Oh yes [it's helpful], especially for the girls," Norma Vargas told the Times-Union of Freel's three children. "We adults can understand a little better. It's a closure for the girls who loved their dad so much and they knew how much their dad loved them. It could help them understand why he did what he did. Maybe not now, but one day they will."
Freel reportedly said that he had suffered "nine or 10" concussions during his playing career. He was the first MLB player to be studied by the Boston group and the first baseball player to be diagnosed with the disease.

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