Former Richmond star Shane Tuck suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy [CTE], the Australian Sports Brain Bank has confirmed.
Tucked died midway through last year after a lengthy battle with mental illness, his death following that of St Kilda great and AFL favourite Danny Frawley a year earlier.
Tuck's family donated his brain to the Brain Bank, its findings set to send shockwaves through the wider AFL community as concussion and CTE continue to be huge discussion points across a number of contact sports.
"It's the worst case I've seen so far," neuropathologist professor Michael Buckland told The Age. "It was actually quite shocking, the degree of disease he had."
Post-mortems on Frawley  and another AFL great, Polly Farmer , also discovered evidence of CTE but, both men were considerably older than Tuck, 38, at the time of their deaths.
"Those cases span three generations of players," Buckland said. "What's disturbing is that the worst case is the most recent, and also the youngest."
Tuck played 173 games from the Tigers, and had a short boxing career following his retirement from the AFL.
Buckland told the The Age he was happy that the AFL had acknowledged the dangers posed by CTE, but also admitted more could be done to safeguard against the disease in the future.
"After Polly Farmer and Danny Frawley, they've come out and admitted the link between CTE and repetitive head injury," he said.
"They've gone further than the other codes. I don't want to slap them down because I want to encourage more of that behaviour."