Since his older brother’s death 11 months ago, Ryan Hilinski has ascended national recruiting leaderboards, earned the distinction of being the country’s top high school pocket passer and collected dozens of scholarship offers from some of the top programs in college football.
The younger brother of Tyler Hilinski, the former Washington State quarterback who committed suicide in Pullman last January, was the subject of a recent New York Times story detailing how the Hilinski family is dealing with the loss almost a year later – and how they’ve coped with Ryan’s decision to embark on a college career in the sport that may have led to Tyler’s death.
In a few weeks, Ryan Hilinski will enroll early at the University of South Carolina and begin his football career with the Gamecocks. Hilinski’s parents, Mark and Kym, and older brother Kelly have encouraged Ryan to pursue his dreams even if they put him at the slightest risk of contracting the chronic disease found in Tyler’s brain months after the WSU QB was found dead in his Pullman apartment.
“We have no clue what happened,” Mark Hilinski told the NYT’s Mike Piellucci. “We will sit here for the next 20 years and not know what the heck happened to Tyler.”
Many have linked Tyler Hilinski’s death to a degenerative brain disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. An autopsy conducted by the Mayo Clinic found small traces of CTE in Hilinski’s brain, which may have stemmed from the repeated head-to-head collisions Hilinski endured playing the quarterback position.
In the story titled “Suicide, Quarterbacks and the Hilinski Family,” Pielluci notes that the Hilinski family offered Ryan an opportunity to walk away from the game.
“Deep down, part of them would be relieved if he did,” the author writes.
Ryan, who’ll soon become the third Hilinski brother to play quarterback at the collegiate level, has honored Tyler this season at California’s Orange Lutheran High wearing the No. 3. He also plans to wear the number next season at South Carolina.
Mark and Kym Hilinski will relocate to nearby Lake Murray, South Carolina, this spring to be closer to their youngest son and Kelly, an aspiring neurologist, plans on transferring to South Carolina’s medical school, according to the NYT.
“It would be hard not to be together knowing that we weren’t in Pullman,” Mark told Pielluci.
“And maybe that could have made some kind of difference,” Kym added, completing his sentence.
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