Chilling Lawrence Phillips documentary set to premiere Dec. 16 on Showtime

A documentary detailing the tragic life of Lawrence Phillips is set to hit the small screen on Dec. 16 when Showtime premieres Running For His Life: The Lawrence Phillips Story.

The premiere of the documentary comes 11 months after Phillips was found dead inside of a California prison cell. In April, authorities determined that Phillips had hanged himself with a bed sheet. The 40-year-old was found dead on Jan. 13.

The former Nebraska running back had been behind bars since 2008 when he was sentenced to 31 years in prison for convictions that included domestic violence, spousal abuse, false imprisonment and vehicle theft.

Phillips, the No. 6 overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, was also facing a first-degree murder charge following the death of his former cellmate, Damion Soward, in April 2015. The punishment in that case could've been the death penalty, but Phillips killed himself before the case went to trial.

Running For His Life will take a detailed look at what led to Phillips' dramatic downfall. The documentary will include interviews with his college coach (Tom Osborne), the NFL coach who drafted him (Dick Vermeil) and several other football luminaries -- like Steve Young and Nick Saban -- who crossed paths with Phillips during his short NFL career.

It wasn't easy for either Osborne or Vermeil to talk about the former running back, and both coaches wish they could've done more.

"If I had to do it over again today, I might not have fired him," Vermeil says in the documentary.

The former Rams coach cut Phillips in November 1997 after the running back had spent less than two seasons with the team. Vermeil got so emotional about cutting Phillips that he actually teared up in the press conference when he announced the move.

"A wasted, gifted human being. It haunts me," Vermeil said in the documentary.

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Lawrence Phillips was the sixth overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. Getty Images

Osborne felt the same way about Phillips' three-year stint at Nebraska.

"I wish, maybe somehow, I could have made more of a difference," Osborne says in the documentary.

After a college career at Nebraska that included national titles in 1994 and '95, the Rams made Phillips the sixth overall pick in 1996 NFL Draft. It wasn't just Vermeil and the Rams who had a difficult time with Phillips. Every NFL team did. The beleaguered running back played in just 35 games over the course of his career with the Rams, Dolphins and 49ers.

The Showtime documentary will premiere at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Dec. 16.

You can see a preview of the film below.

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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