Charles White’s downward spiral was caused by brain trauma

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Charles White’s story has many dimensions. For young USC fans who never got to see the 1979 Heisman Trophy winner play in person or on live television, Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke offers a history lesson combined with an update. day of 2022.

Plaschke’s must-read article on White is a mixture of brush strokes. Plaschke paints a textured picture of ups, downs, bright memories, a dwindling memory, a storied past, a brutal accident, the devastating human toll of playing football and hope. meaningful moments in the near future at USC.

There’s a lot to sort through here. Obviously, you should read the whole piece.

Charles White’s grief is expressed most centrally in this excerpt, which explains that his personal issues during and after his NFL career were not an isolated personal choice or character flaw, but the product of injuries. brain damage caused by football and absorbing one shot after another. :

“Everyone loved him, everyone wanted to be around him, but nobody had a clue,” said White-Basch (ex-wife and current care manager Judi). “He had become unmanageable.

Soon he could no longer be left alone. He would take his phone apart. He would take apart the TV remote. He would leave the iron. He ate raw meat from the refrigerator. He retired to his room and clapped, sang and talked to himself.

“It was a daily trauma; it was destroying our lives,” said White-Basch, who soon realized it was about much more than the effects of a lifelong addiction.

After visits to several doctors, he was diagnosed with dementia related to traumatic brain injury, a condition increasingly common among former football players in White’s age group.

The family was devastated but relieved to finally have an answer that could help explain years of erratic behavior. Studies have shown that more than 60% of traumatic brain injury patients have a history of drug and alcohol abuse, with abuse often increasing after the initial injury.

“Everything we went through, everyone thought their issues were strictly drug-related, now we’re finding out it could have been directly related to the traumatic brain injury,” White-Basch said. “For so many years it didn’t make sense; now that makes sense.

Another very important note from Plaschke’s column:

His family would like to share this new kind of greatness through some kind of outreach program for other families afflicted by the devastating consequences of dementia. White-Basch encourages anyone in a similar situation to contact her at [email protected]

Our prayers go out to Charles White, Judi White-Basch and the extended White family.

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