Chris Simon's family reveals NHL veteran died by suicide after brain disease battle

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An undated image of former Islanders enforcer Chris Simon. — Reuters/File
An undated image of former Islanders' enforcer Chris Simon. — Reuters/File

Former National Hockey League (NHL) star Chris Simon's family has revealed that the athlete died by suicide after his brain disease worsened recently.

In a statement to ESPN, Simon's family revealed that they believe he dealt with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that worsens over time.

"The family strongly believes and witnessed firsthand, that Chris struggled immensely from CTE which unfortunately resulted in his death," a statement from by Simon's former agent, Paul Theofanous, said on Wednesday morning.

“We are grieving with the loss of our son, brother, father, partner, teammate and friend," the statement continued. "We will not be releasing any further details at this time and ask for privacy during this very difficult time. We appreciate everyone who shares in our tragic loss."

Simon, who was 52-years-old when he passed away earlier this week, was known for his physical play, getting into 101 fights and adding 1,824 penalty minutes during his career.

Simon played with The Islanders for two seasons and was drafted 25th overall in the 1990 NHL Draft.

He reached the Stanley Cup Final three times, winning it all in 1996 with the Avalanche.

He played his last game in 2008, ending his career with 144 goals and 161 assists.

The NHL also released a statement following his death, stating: "The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Chris Simon, who played in more than 800 NHL games over 15 seasons.

"A fierce competitor and teammate, Simon won the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 1996, and reached the 1998 Stanley Cup Final with Washington as well as the 2004 Stanley Cup Final with Calgary.

"Our sincere condolences go out to his family, friends and former teammates."