WSU honors deceased QB Tyler Hilinski before game
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) – The parents of deceased Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski raised the Cougar flag prior to the game against San Jose State on Saturday, capping a brief tribute to the player who took his own life last January.
The 21-year-old Hilinski, who would have been the presumptive starter this season, shot himself in his apartment on Jan. 16.
Parents Mark and Kym Hilinski have said they do not know why.
This was the first WSU home game since. The program is remembering Hilinski this season by wearing decals with his No. 3 on their helmets, and maintaining his locker. Hilinski’s parents and two brothers raised the Cougar flag prior to kickoff, drawing lengthy applause from the crowd.
A suicide prevention video was also played on the scoreboard before the game.
The family has created Hilinski’s Hope, a charity to raise awareness of mental health issues. A Hilinski’s Hope flag is displayed inside Martin Stadium this season.
Hilinski had shown flashes of brilliance in backing up Luke Falk last year, leading the Cougars to a come-from-behind victory over Boise State. The image of Hilinski being carried off the field after the overtime victory is etched in the memories of Washington State fans.
An autopsy revealed Hilinski suffered from Stage 1 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the earliest stage of the disease that has been linked to the repeated head trauma common in football and other contact sports. The disease, which can only be diagnosed in an autopsy, is known to cause violent moods, depression, dementia and other cognitive difficulties.
The Hilinskis have said they don’t know what part CTE might have played in Tyler’s suicide.