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Ex-MLB player Jeremy Giambi 'seemed different' after baseball head injury before death by suicide, family said

The former Oakland A's slugger became "very emotional, very negative" after he was hit in the head six months before he died, his family told the coroner. Drug tests came back negative, a report shows.
Oakland Athletics Jeremy Giambi, center, is congratulated after scoring in the fifth inning as New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens walks back to the mound during the first game of the American League 2000 Division Series in Oakland, Calif., on Oct. 3, 2000.
Jeremy Giambi of the Oakland Athletics, center, is congratulated after he scored against the New York Yankees in the first game of the American League Division Series in Oakland, Calif., on Oct. 3, 2000.Monica Davey / AFP via Getty Images file

Former major league baseball player Jeremy Giambi suffered a life-altering blow to the head six months before he died by suicide, a coroner's report revealed on Thursday.

Giambi, 47, who played for the Kansas City Royals, the Oakland Athletics, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox, was found dead in his parents' home in suburban Los Angeles on Feb. 9 from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Giambi had struggled with drug abuse — methamphetamines and Percocet — in the past and was even put on a psychiatric hold at one point eight years before his death, according to the report, written by Coroner Investigator Ricardo Lopez.

But it was "not believed the decedent was using drugs recently," Lopez wrote. A post-mortem screen for drugs such as fentanyl, methamphetamines, cocaine and various opiates came back negative, coroner's records showed.

Giambi's family said he had been working as a pitching coach in August when he was "struck in the head by a baseball and fractured his zygomatic bone," which is just below the eye, according to Lopez.

Giambi had surgery to repair the break, but he "seemed different since the injury," his mother told Lopez.

"She said since the injury, the decedent was very emotional, very negative and would let the smallest things ruin his day," Lopez reported.

Giambi was scanned, but a neurologist could not make any diagnosis, his family told investigators.

Giambi left a suicide note behind. The corner did not detail its contents.

A fictionalized version of Giambi was portrayed in the 2011 movie "Moneyball." He was cast as a low-cost alternative signed by Oakland to replace his superstar brother, Jason Giambi, who left the A's for a big-money deal with the New York Yankees.

But the movie's telling was not accurate, as the Giambi brothers were already teammates when Jason left for New York after the 2001 season.

In 510 career games over six seasons in the majors, Jeremy Giambi hit 52 home runs and had a well-above average on-base percentage of .377, a fact hammered home by Brad Pitt's fictionalized version of A's general manager Billy Beane in the movie.

Giambi played college baseball at Cal State Fullerton and won a College World Series title in 1995, alongside current Oakland A's manager Mark Kotsay.