A rising professional athlete in a dangerous sport suddenly takes his life. When doctors examine his brain in an autopsy, they notice the tell-tale signs of the notorious degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
The story is common in the world of football. However, in this case, I’m describing young Canadian bull rider Ty Pozzobon. This week, Pozzobon became the first professional bull rider to be diagnosed with the brain disease most known among NFL players and pro boxers.
The young, rising star in bull riding committed suicide earlier this year at just the age of 25. The popular rodeo figure had qualified three times for the Canadian Finals Rodeo and had recently been named the 2016 Professional Bull Riders Canadian champion.
Throughout his career, Pozzobon experienced a number of concussions. This led his family to donate his brain to the University of Washington in Seattle after his death to see whether his brain injuries could have contributed to his suicide.
This week, researchers from the university confirmed the Pozzobon family’s fears – the rider had developed CTE.
The family said they hope the findings will help other’s and spread awareness of the risks of brain injuries.
“Ty’s passing has brought so much sorrow and pain to all, we hope everyone, specifically athletes, understand that we need to educate each other with regards to head injuries, both short and long-term impacts,” the family said in a written statement.
In response to the findings, the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) released a statement saying that “athlete health and welfare always has been and remains of utmost importance.”
“PBR has medical personnel present at every event we produce, is working with experienced organizations to develop advanced protective equipment and is engaging with riders regularly in new research and development initiatives,” the statement read.