Neighborhood friend reacts to Phillips' death

Posted at 5:34 PM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 22:51:13-05

News about Lawrence Phillips' death came as a shock to some including one of our photographers at 23 ABC who knew Phillips growing up.  Henry Lopez grew up down the street from Phillps in West Covina. 

"The Lawrence Phillips that I knew was a football player, the star football player in high school," says Lopez.    

Twenty years ago, the Nebraska Cornhuskers running back was on top of the world.  He was a Heisman trophy candidate and his team was a national championship contender.  A bizarre string of arrests landed him in jail and his neighborhood friend says he never would have imagined this would happen.

"Once he started getting in trouble with the law I always prayed that he had the right friends around him and unfortunately that didn't seem to be the case."

In college Phillips was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend.  The following year, Phillips was drafted by the Rams but ran into trouble again when he was stopped for drunk driving. 

In 1997 - Phillips was cut from the Rams and signed to Miami who cut him after pleading no contest to misdemeanor battery.  He later pleaded no contest to felony charges of assault and making terrorist threats while playing for the 49ers.  He again was accused of punching and choking another girlfriend when he moved to San Diego -- and later arrested again for trying to run over three teens.  Phillips was set to go to trial for allegedly killing his cellmate in 2013.  Lopez says he remembers Phillips as a good kid and hates to see how everything played out.

"Maybe he felt he was going to be accused of murder and spend the rest of his life in prison.  He didn't have any hope no more.  It looks like he just lost all hope."