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'63 Bears star Larry Morris: His last, difficult years

NFL

In December of 2012, Kay Morris, her three sons and daughter were gathered around the bedside of Larry Morris at Presbyterian Village in Austell, Ga. He has stopped eating and drinking, and was in a semi-comatose state.

They talk to him, but they are not sure if he hears their words.

“We all love you.”

“You have prepared us well.”

“The children will be OK.”

“We will miss you.”

Soon, Larry Morris, the former Bears linebacker takes his last breath. There is a deep sadness in the room.  And a deep relief. He was 79.

It has been a long journey. 

After his playing days, Morris became a successful real estate developer. But he was oddly forgetful. His family playfully called him “the absent minded professor.”

It got worse over time, and Morris made some dreadful, out of character business decisions, which led to his indictment in a multimillion dollar loan scandal.  He was put on probation, but Morris continued to show questionable judgment.

In 1991, his house in Georgia was worth more than $1 million, and Morris owed very little on it. He signed it away to get loans on some properties. Then he couldn’t sell the properties.

The Morris family soon was broke. In 1996 his wife had to quit her job to keep an eye on him because he would wander. She couldn’t make her house payment and was desperate.

Gridiron Greats, which is spearheaded by Ditka, contributed thousands of dollars to help Morris before the NFL’s 88 Plan stepped in. Morris had been at Presbyterian Village since 2009.  The 88 Plan had been paying between $6,000 and $7,000 per month for his care there.

Morris kept deteriorating.  For the last ten years of his life, he could not have a conversation.  For the last six years, he was completely incapable of any communication.

He could move his head from side to side, and he could grasp things with his left hand.  Other than that, he could not move.

The strong suspicion is Morris had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

“I felt good for him when he passed away,” his widow Kay Morris says.  "I was happy for him to escape that body that wasn’t working anymore. But it was harder than I thought it would be.  It’s been a tough 20 some years. We made it by the grace of God.”

 

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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