Ryan Freel had CTE, doctors say

Freel took his own life last December. He was 36. Photo: Associated Press

(WJLA) - Once thought to be a disease that only afflicted athletes in contact sports, a former Major League Baseball player who took his own life last winter has been posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Ryan Freel, a former MLB player who spent 8 seasons in the big leagues with Cincinnati, Baltimore, Chicago and Kansas City, was found to have the disorder commonly known as CTE, according to CNN.

Freel committed suicide on Dec. 22, 2012. He was 36.

CNN says that testing on Freel's brain in the months after his death revealed that the baseball player had Stage 2 CTE, a moderate stage of the disease that ravages the brain and causes memory loss and paranoia; in some cases, CTE has been proven to cause dementia.

Multiple current and former National Football League players have been diagnosed with and died from - either by their own hand or because of the disease - chronic traumatic encephalopathy.