TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – In football, concussions are unfortunately not that rare. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is one of the potential long-term effects of any head injury.
But CTE isn’t just something older people have to deal with. The Chandler Kimball Foundation was established to honor and commemorate Chandler Kimball, a Valley football player with CTE who tragically committed suicide at the age of 25.
“Chandler was the life of the party,” her father Jason Kimball said. “He loved being in front of people; he was a magnet for kindness.”
And from a young age, Jason says Chandler was a magnet for the grill. He lacked size, but he wasn’t afraid to flaunt it all.
“He had a concussion in 2006,” Kimball said. “He was a big hitter, and I noticed something was wrong when we took him off the field, and he kept repeating the same questions over and over again.”
But still, Chandler continued to play high school football before leaving for ASU. During the last year and a half of his life, Chandler’s personality took a turn.
“He started having auditory hallucinations and paranoia and really started to isolate himself,” Kimball said.
After Chandler died in 2019, pathologist and CTE expert Dr. Bennet Owalu (played by Will Smith in the 2015 film ‘Concussion’) determined that Chandler had CTE. Owalu says it’s not uncommon for young athletes who play football and other contact sports to end up with the condition.
“If your child plays football for just one season, his brain is damaged,” Owalu said.
Jason didn’t know that. Through the Chandler Kimball Foundation, he works to make sure other parents do.
“We’re not anti-football,” Kimball said. “We just focus on the fact that kids shouldn’t play tackle football. So I think that’s the message.”
About the one thing Chandler loved more than football? Music. So Jason and the Foundation decided to bring some of Chandler’s favorite artists to Sunbar in Tempe. Former Cardinals quarterback John Skelton hosted the event, with all proceeds going to learn more about CTE.
“I have a seven-year-old son,” Skelton said. “He’s not playing football yet, but he will eventually. I think this event is ideal for raising awareness of the disease and the long-term effects it could have.”
Jason thinks Chandler also enjoyed the event.
“I know Chandler is just feeling the vibe,” Kimball said. “He’s really happy to see this happen.”
If you would like to donate to the Chandler Kimball Foundation, you can do so here.
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