Former Richmond star Shane Tuck died as a result of brain disease, not poor mental health, according to his sister Renee.
The footy world was shocked in 2020 by the news of Shane’s sudden passing at the age of just 38.
The son of Hawthorn legend Michael had played 173 games for the Tigers across 10 seasons before retiring in 2013.
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After his death, Shane’s brain was donated to the Brain Bank, an organisation founded by Dr Michael Buckland who is a renowned neuropathologist.
Dr Buckland researches chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease which can only be diagnosed post-mortem, by examining the build-up of a brain protein known as tau.
Buckland was taken aback by what he saw when he examined Shane’s brain.
“Shane‘s brain was the worst I’d ever seen in terms of pure CTE, and that came as a real shock,” Dr Buckland told the ABC.
“In fact, when the scientist handed me the microscope to look [at the brain], I didn‘t even need the microscope to see the accumulation of tau.
“He was a young man, and to see that level of disease was quite shocking.”
Renee said that only a few years after Shane had retired, he told her he was hearing voices, “and they weren‘t very nice.” His personality changed dramatically.
“Shane wasn‘t a mentally unwell guy, he was a go-getter,” she said.
“He didn‘t suffer anxiety and depression and he loved life, he lived it to the full, [just like] how he played his football.
“When he said there were some things going on, I was very concerned because I knew him well enough to know this is not him.”
Renee was relieved to learn of Dr Buckland’s findings.
“He wasn‘t mentally unwell, and it was a diseased brain that had been dying on him,” she said.
“It just helped us unbelievably so, because it just made so much sense and that‘s been very helpful in our healing and moving forward.”