It was only 19 years ago that Lawrence Phillips was preparing for his first NFL season after wrapping up an illustrious career as a record-setting running back at Nebraska, where he captured two national titles. He was selected by the Rams with the 6th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft and entered the league with high expectations to become a game-changing piece to a team loaded with intriguing talent and seasoned veterans.
Phillips only remained in St. Louis for two seasons and proceeded to spend the next seven years bouncing around the NFL, AFL, NFL Europe and CFL. He was arrested numerous times and suspected of wrongdoings on many other occasions over his time at Nebraska and while his unreliable professional career crawled along.
In October 2006, Phillips was found guilty on seven counts, including felony assault with a deadly weapon (car) and sentenced to 10 years in prison. One year later, while still serving that sentence, he was found guilty on seven more counts for assaulting his former girlfriend, leaving his entire prison term at 31 years. His run-ins continued when his prison cellmate Damion Soward was found dead on April 12, 2015 and Phillips was named a prime suspect in the case, with the investigation still ongoing.
Since arriving in prison nearly six years ago, he was written numerous letters to former coaches and friends, including his former high school coaches Tony Zane and Ty Pagone. Amongst other things, Phillips discusses brutal prison life in the letters that USA Today Sports obtained.