LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips was found dead early Wednesday at Kern Valley State Prison from an apparent suicide.

Phillips, 40, was found unresponsive in his cell at 12:05 a.m. as staff conducted security checks, according to the state Department of Corrections. He was taken to an outside hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:27 a.m.

The former pro football player was serving a 31-year, four-month sentence. Phillips was convicted in 2005 in San Diego for choking his ex-girlfriend into unconsciousness. In Los Angeles County, Phillips entered a no contest plea in December 2000 to one count each of inflicting corporal injury upon a cohabitant and making criminal threats against his then-live-in girlfriend.

In October 2006, Phillips was convicted of seven felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon for aiming a car at a group of boys and young men after an August 2005 pickup football game near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Three people were struck by the car and a fourth person was injured when the car struck a bicycle which then hit him.

Phillips was being held in an Administrative Segregation Unit on single-cell status since April 11, 2013 after he was suspected of killing his cellmate, 37-year-old Damion Soward, according to Department of Corrections officials. He was currently in pre-trial phase for that homicide.

The former Baldwin Park High School standout was a top running back at the University of Nebraska. He played for the St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers during his three-year career in the NFL.

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