12/16/2013 03:29 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Ryan Freel, Former MLB Player, Suffered From CTE At Time Of Suicide: REPORT

Former Major League Baseball player Ryan Freel suffered from degenerative brain disease at the time his suicide in December 2012, his family announced on Sunday.

As first reported by The Florida Times-Union, Freel's family announced that a report from the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and Sports Legacy Institute revealed that he was suffering from Stage II chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) at the time of his death. Freel died at age 36 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in December 2012.

Freel would be first MLB player diagnosed with CTE, reported FOX Sports. The degenerative brain disease linked to concussions and head trauma has made headlines for its connection to football and the NFL.

A utility player who spent parts of eight seasons in the Majors, Freel was best known for his years with the Cincinnati Reds. He played 594 games with five teams from 2001 through 2009. Before retiring, he once estimated that he sustained up to 10 concussions, according to The Associated Press.