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Mother of former pro football player remembers what CTE did to her son
ORANGE - by Lauren Huet
More former professional football players are being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease caused by repeated head trauma. Some symptoms are depression, paranoia, aggression, memory loss, irritability, and poor concentration.
Tony Dorsett, Joe DeLamielleure, and Leonard Marshall were diagnosed as having signs of CTE after undergoing brain scans and testing for three months at the University of California at Los Angeles.
CTE is caused by a buildup of protein called tau, and worsens over time.
One Southeast Texas mother remembers the havoc CTE wreaked on her son, Shane Dronett, all too clearly.
Whenever Candace Henry looks out at her property, she sees her son. Dronett bought Henry the property, and she says if he were still here, the property would be much better taken care of.
"My real son was the sweetest person in the world," said Henry. "He was the only child that I ever had."
Henry remembers the last time Dronett was truly himself.
"It was on a Christmas and he put a big old Christmas tree in that room to the ceiling, and decorated it," said Henry. "And we had an awesome Christmas. And that was the last time I remember talking to him when he was Shane."
Then, Shane Dronett changed.
"My son was gone but his body was there. His mind was not the mind of my child. It was the mind of somebody I didn't know," said Henry.
For two years, Dronett grew worse, and his mother, wife, and two daughters didn't know what was wrong.
"The children are in danger, the wife is in danger, the mother is in danger, and I mean serious danger, because I faced serious danger with my own child where I was in serious danger, and it wasn't him, it was brain damage. It was CTE that almost took my life one night," said Henry.
Dronett killed himself on January 21, 2009. A brain study found he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
"It's shortened by calling it CTE, which is multiple, multiple, multiple brain injuries until you actually, literally lose your mind," said Henry.
Henry says CTE is a silent killer, and her son was never diagnosed with a concussion. She tells young football players that playing football is not worth it until they find a way to protect players from brain damage.
"You have this whole life ahead of you, football is not everything, money is not everything; and I know my son went for it for the big money that they make. And if this happens to you, that money isn't going to do you any good. And it's not going to make us feel any better, any money that they give to us," said Henry.
Nearly a third of the NFL's former players have joined in a lawsuit against the NFL over concussion related brain injuries. The NFL reached a tentative agreement in August to settle for almost 800 million dollars.