Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips is being investigated as a suspect in a prison death, according to a report from Bakersfield TV station KGET.
BREAKING: Lawrence Phillips (yes, the Nebraska running back), is under investigation for murdering his cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison— Jason Galvin (@JGalvinKGET) April 13, 2015
Phillips is suspected of murdering Damion Soward, 37, at 12:46 a.m. Saturday morning. Soward was serving 82-to-life for 1st degree murder.— Jason Galvin (@JGalvinKGET) April 13, 2015
Phillips, now 39, was the sixth overall pick of the St. Louis Rams in 1996 after he had a troubling history of violence while at Nebraska. He played just 25 games with the Rams before leaving the team after he was demoted to second string. The Rams cut him, and he signed with the Miami Dolphins. He played two games with Miami before he was released after pleading no contest to assaulting a woman.
Then-49ers general manager Bill Walsh signed Phillips out of desperation in 1999 following Garrison Hearst's career-threatening ankle injury.
Phillips lasted just eight games with the 49ers. He missed a block on blitzing Arizona Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams, resulting in the hit that ended quarterback Steve Young's career.
Coach Steve Mariucci eventually kicked Phillips off the team on a day the 49ers traveled to New Orleans for a game after Phillips was insubordinate at practice that day. Phillips gained 144 yards and two touchdowns on 30 rushing attempts.
He never played again in the NFL. Phillips was sentenced to 31 years and four months in Kern Valley State Prison in 2008 after convictions of attacking and choking his girlfriend on two occasions in 2005.