Five years ago, Trent Richardson’s life ended when a car crash sent him into a coma.
Four years later, the former Alabama star died of an undiagnosed blood clot in his brain.
Now, with Richardson’s untimely death and the fallout from a civil lawsuit over the incident that led to the NFL suspending him for the rest of the season, it’s easy to forget how different the life he lived before that crash could have been.
The story of the NFL suspension is a cautionary tale for all who attempt to emulate the life of a former star athlete, a life in which everything that goes wrong is magnified by the events that led up to it.
“I had no idea it would take so long for the league to make that decision, but the NFL’s a place where a lot of things happen,” Richardson’s cousin, Derrick Moore, told Al Jazeera.
“They’ve had a lot in common over the years.
It’s not just what they did.
It was how they were treated.”
The Richardson story The tragic nature of the accident that led the Alabama star to a coma can be traced back to February 10, 2010, when he collided with a vehicle on Alabama’s campus and lost control of his car.
The crash killed him instantly, and a second accident followed that same night, when Richardson was involved in another car accident in which he also lost control.
The following day, he was arrested for drunk driving, but pleaded guilty to the second crash, which left him with an undisclosed amount of alcohol in his system.
The second incident occurred less than a month after the accident in the Alabamian city of Birmingham.
That accident also left a man with an undisclosed amount of blood in his body.
After the second accident, Richardson, who played quarterback at Alabama for three years before being drafted in the third round by the Oakland Raiders, was arrested on suspicion of assault on a police officer, a charge he would plead guilty to.
He was also charged with driving while intoxicated, but that case was dropped, and Richardson never faced jail time for either of those crimes.
The two accidents are the most prominent examples of the kind of incidents that led Richardson to the brink of a life of addiction.
The Alabama star suffered from a history of substance abuse, as well as depression and anxiety issues.
He had recently graduated from college and was living on a fixed income, but he was still living off of a portion of his father’s $250,000 paycheck.
When he was pulled over for speeding on January 15, 2012, he admitted to a friend that he had consumed a “liquor” in the car.
He later told police that he “had a few beers.”
While driving with his friend to the Alabama-Georgia football game, the Alabama man’s car was swerved, and he suffered an ankle injury.
“I was just going in the right direction, and I hit a light pole,” he said.
“I was bleeding.
I thought I was going to die.”
As the police investigated the crash, the driver of the vehicle that Richardson was driving, Justin Thompson, told police he noticed Richardson’s blood on the road and that he was having difficulty breathing.
During an interview with the police, Thompson claimed that he saw Richardson “walk into a light and put his hand out.”
According to the police report, Thompson said he was able to see Richardson’s hand, which was “very, very red.”
“He was still trying to breathe,” Thompson told the officer, according to the report.
“He had a big gash in his hand.
I told him to go ahead and tell us where the officer was.”
Police were called to the scene.
At the scene, Thompson allegedly told the officers he was “poking his finger into his eye,” and that Richardson appeared to be “drunk.”
He also told the police that Richardson had told him that he wanted to drink alcohol.
When asked by the officer why he was driving the car, he said that he needed to go to a party.
At this point, Richardson’s condition deteriorated to the point where he was in cardiac arrest.
The police report noted that Richardson’s friend had called 911.
A few hours later, Richardson had died at a hospital.
According to a lawsuit filed against the NFL, Richardson died “due to the cumulative impact of the multiple, repeated, intentional and willful violations of [the NFL’s] policy against using alcohol as a performance enhancer, and [the league’s] failure to take immediate and effective action to prevent the deaths.”
Richardson’s family initially filed a lawsuit against the league, but in January of this year, a judge dismissed the case.
With the help of the attorney of his choice, Richardson was then placed in a residential treatment program.
He returned to school after his release, where he remained for the next two years.