Jason Hairston's Wife Speaks Out After Former NFL Player's Suicide: 'He Was the Love of
Jason Hairston with his son Cash, daughter Coco and wife, Kirsyn Courtesy Kirstyn Hairston
Just weeks before his suicide on Sept. 4 at age 47, former NFL player Jason Hairston struggled with worsening symptoms associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), his wife, Kirstyn Hairston, tells PEOPLE.
“We were sitting in our bedroom, and Jason’s a tough guy, but he finally had a vulnerable moment with me,” Kirstyn, 46, shares. “He said, ‘It’s bad, I can’t remember anything anymore, I can’t remember people’s names.’ Then he said, ‘Please don’t leave me.’ I told him I never would — I told him, ‘I promise you, I will always take care of you.’ “
Jason — who spent much of his early life playing football in high school, college and briefly in the NFL — first showed symptoms of the degenerative brain disorder a few years following his retirement from professional football in 1996. When he became concerned about the fluctuating emotions he would experience after consuming even a small amount of alcohol, Jason asked his wife to closely monitor him one night as he sipped a drink in their home in Dixon, California.
“He wanted me to see what happened to him,” Kirstyn says of that moment, more than a decade ago. “He had two drinks, and he was 100 percent different. He just started crying. I looked at him and I said, ‘My god, this isn’t alcohol. There’s something wrong with you.’ “
For the next two days, Kirstyn combed the Internet for answers, until she finally came upon a site detailing the symptoms of depression, impulsive behavior, short-term memory loss and emotional instability that are signs of CTE. They closely resembled what her husband was gradually experiencing.
Jason Hairston in 1995 as a player on the San Francisco 49ers Jason Hairston Instagram