‘Shocking’ find after AFL star’s death
The Australian Sports Brain Bank has revealed the late Shane Tuck had a severe case of degenerative brain disease CTE, making him the third AFL player to have suffered from the crippling neurological disorder.
The former Richmond star died in July last year at the age of 38 after a lengthy battle with depression.
The tragic news broke hearts across the entire AFL community and sparked an outpouring of emotion from footy lovers around the country.
Tuck's family agreed to donate his brain to the Brain Bank and on Saturday morning it was revealed the AFL star battled stage three CTE - which can only be diagnosed after death.
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"It's the worst case I've seen so far," neuropathologist professor Michael Buckland told The Age. "It was actually quite shocking, the degree of disease he had."
CTE was also found post-mortem in AFL greats Polly Farmer and Danny Frawley.
"Those cases span three generations of players," Buckland said. "What's disturbing is that the worst case is the most recent, and also the youngest."
According to the Australian Sports Brain Bank, CTE is a brain condition associated with repeated blows to the head. Symptoms vary in severity, but include memory problems, issues with cognitive function and depression.
The disease has become increasingly prevalent in NFL, boxing and soccer. But in 2019, Australia was effected for the first time when two former rugby league players, including legendary Canterbury player and coach Steve Folkes, were diagnosed with the disease.
Leagues across the world have instituted concussion protocols or head injury assessments, but the revelation of the degenerative disease has seen several players cut their careers short over fears of concussion.
Hawthorn great and Tuck's heartbroken father, Michael, spoke to The Herald Sun last year about his son's hardships and how he sadly couldn't overcome them.
"It's hard to explain right now … shock, pain," Michael said in July.
"He was a big, strong kid and he just had a few issues and he couldn't get rid of them and that was the only way out."
A 173-game veteran for the Tigers, Tuck followed in his famous father's footsteps into the AFL.
Tuck was originally drafted to Hawthorn - the club his dad played his entire career for - with the 24th pick in the 2000 Rookie Draft. He was released in 2002 before reviving his career in the SANFL and being picked up by the Tigers with the 74th pick of the 2003 National Draft.
He quickly became a key player in Richmond's midfield over a decade, until his retirement in 2013.
Tuck then pursued a career in boxing, where he competed in five bouts.
With his father one of the legends of the game, Tuck was well ingrained in the football community. His brother Travis played for Hawthorn, while his mother Fay is the sister of Geelong legend Gary Ablett.
- with Tyson Otto & Andrew McMurtry
Originally published as 'Shocking' find after AFL star's death