Lawrence Phillips, a former running back for the St. Louis Rams, is suspected in the death of his cell mate, officials said Monday (March 13). The ex-professional athlete, 39, was accused after the body of 37-year-old Damion Soward was found inside his cell at the Kern Valley State Prison.

Damion Soward, 37, was found unresponsive in his cell just before 1 a.m. on Saturday, April 11.

Phillips, who is serving a 31-year sentence for multiple charges including spousal abuse and auto theft, is a suspect in Soward’s death, officials said. He is now in a segregation unit of the prison, according to the California Department of Corrections.

Prison officials said they suspect a second inmate at the prison of killing his cellmate. It’s unclear if the two are related.

Phillips is locked up for assault, car theft, and more charges. In 2005, he was convicted of choking a girlfriend (until she was unconscious), and driving a car into a group of teenagers.

Born in Arkansas, Phillips was once a star player at the University of Nebraska, helping the team win a championship in 1994. He was arrested for assaulting an ex-girlfriend in 1995, and drafted by the Rams in 1996.

Photo: ABC screen cap

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