Chyna's Brain Donated to CTE Research: Manager | NBC 7 San Diego

Chyna's Brain Donated to CTE Research: Manager

Joan Marie Laurer was found dead last week in her Southern California home at the age of 46

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    Joanie Laurer, aka Chyna, is pictured in this file photo.

    The brain of former WWE star Chyna, who was found dead last week in her Southern California home, will be donated for research involving the effects of concussions, her manager said Tuesday.

    Chyna, whose real name is Joan Marie Laurer, was found dead Wednesday in her Redondo Beach apartment. Police were responding to a 911 call from a friend who said the former 46-year-old World Wrestling Entertainment performer failed to answer her phone for a few days.

    Anthony Anzaldo, her manager, told NBC4 Los Angeles Tuesday that her brain will be donated for research involving chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain injury also known as CTE. Anzaldo said the brain has been given to Dr. Bennet Ifeakandu Omalu, a groundbreaking researcher who first discovered and published findings on CTE and was the subject of the 2015 film "Concussion," starring Will Smith.

    "We want to donate her brain," Anzaldo told The New York Daily News. "We want to know what made Chyna tick."

    CTE has been diagnosed in the brains of several former NFL players. The progressive degenerative disease of the brain, which can only be diagnosed after death, has been found in athletes who have a history of repeated blows to the head and concussions.

    The result of her autopsy have not been released.

    Some of the former NFL stars diagnosed with CTE include former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, Steelers lineman Mike Webster and the Giants' Frank Gifford.

    Attorneys contacted him long before Chyna's death to gauge interest in joining a brain injury lawsuit against the WWE, Analdo told the Daily News. They decided not to join the lawsuit, he said.

    The WWE — then known as the World Wrestling Federation — hired Chyna in 1997. After leaving the WWE in 2001, Laurer was determined to stay active in the entertainment industry. She wrote her memoir, became a semi-regular on Howard Stern's radio show and appeared in TV sitcoms like "3rd Rock From the Sun" and reality shows including "The Surreal Life." She was in Playboy twice and appeared in a string of porn movies.

    She joins a long list of WWE professional wrestlers who have died relatively young, including Rick Rude, Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig, the Ultimate Warrior and Owen Hart.