Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young has been denied parole in California. Young, 28, who has been serving a four year sentence since April for charges stemming from a fight, played 26 games for the Lions in 2011 and 2012. He was released by the Rams in 2013. Young and his family have contended that he is bipolar and hears voices, while doctors have diagnosed him with suffering from the effects of CTE, which is a result of brain trauma.
According to ESPN, the deputy commissioner who reviewed the case wrote in his decision that Young continues to pose a risk of violence to the community. The commissioner's decision referred to "the lack of sustained rehabilitative programming tailored to Mr. Young's history of violent criminality."
However, according to the LA Times, Young has participated in several educational and recovery groups during his incarceration, and is on the waiting list for anger management, substance abuse, and other programs. To date, Young has had no violent rules violations.
The L.A. County District Attorney's office opposed his release in two letters to the board, according to the commissioner's report.
In January, the LA Times published excerpts from Young's 141 page diary written during his incarceration. In the diary, he writes candidly about his history of mental illness. “Having bipolar has pretty much torn down my life. It’s been four years of fighting so many different behaviors. When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t want to believe it because I felt my life was too perfect to have bipolar. Football players don’t take medicine. I’m macho. Put me back on the field. But, no, that’s really not what I needed.”
Young sustained head injuries throughout his career, dating back to high school. His high school coach recalls a collision between Young and another player: “That was the worst I’ve seen. It’s one hit where I thought maybe something happened.” Throughout his college and NFL careers, Young was known for getting into fights with teammates, posting incoherent messages on social media, among other troubling behaviours. According to the Times, "He snapped at strangers without provocation. He couldn’t sleep. He grew paranoid."
Young's family linked the young man's alarming behavior to a concussion during his rookie season. Young told a cousin and close friend about absorbing a hard hit, feeling dazed, shaking it off and continuing to play. The Lions’ injury report never mentioned it.
A 2008 study, "Psychiatric disorders and traumatic brain injury," links brain injuries like those reported by Young with behaviours he exhibited, including paranoia, poor social functioning, aggression, and irritability. The study reveals that half of males who suffer traumatic brain injuries develop bipolar symptoms.
Young was a second-round pick out of Boise State in 2011 and caught 81 passes and 10 touchdowns in his two seasons with the Lions. He has 30 days from the date he received the parole decision to challenge the ruling.
In his prison diary, Young wrote: “I want to be free. I believe God has a plan for me and deep down I believe it’s to dominate the NFL.”