Former Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan had CTE at time of death

Quarterback Colt Brennan or the University of Hawaii Warriors poses for a photo on Waikiki Beach on Aug. 16, 2007.
The parents of former Hawaii star quarterback Colt Brennan learned this week that their son had been suffering from CTE before his death last year.
(Lucy Pemoni / Getty Images)

Former Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan was found to have had Stage 1 chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a post-mortem examination, his family was told this week.

After his death in May of 2021, Brennan’s brain was sent to the CTE Center at Boston University. The test results confirmed what his parents had suspected.

“We knew Colt was struggling,” said his father, Terry. “We just didn’t know everything. He certainly had his challenges… This is just a piece of the puzzle, I guess.”


Colt Brennan was a star football player at Hawaii who finished third in Heisman Trophy voting before years of substance abuse problems cost him his life.

Brennan, who grew up in Orange County and played at Mater Dei High and Saddleback College, dealt with drug and alcohol issues and died after an overdose that included fentanyl. He was 37.

Along with experiencing concussions in football, Brennan suffered head trauma in a 2010 head-on collision when an SUV he was traveling in crossed the center line.

Colt Brennan was more than just a onetime star quarterback at Hawaii who struggled with substance abuse problems, his family and coaches say.