The former Bears player Erik Kramer checked into the Good Nite Inn in Calabasas, California, on Aug. 18 the 18th of August, 2015. He was carrying with him the SIG Sauer 9mm handgun he purchased to mark the event.
Kramer had spent time planning his demise. He put all his financial affairs in place to ensure his son Dylan would be able to live comfortably. He had never shot a gun previously, therefore he decided to take his gun to the range for test.
In the span of five years, Kramer divorced, struggled to find a connection with Dylan (who chose to live with his mother) and broke up with his partner. Then, death took the people closest to him, one at a time. one.
In 2011 Kramer’s son Griffen, a quarterback aged 18 in Thousand Oaks High School, passed away due to a fatal overdose of heroin. He was injected with the drug, froze at the mouth, and then passed out. The friends of his didn’t bring his medical attention. Instead, they threw him in a room, which was where he died on the following day.
As of 2012, Kramer’s mom, Eileen, died of uterine cancer. They had become close just a few months prior to. Kramer grieved her passing, but was unsure what direction the relationship was heading. He was the son of his father Karl who he was not particularly close was diagnosed with esophageal cancer , which was later to end his life. It was a shock to Kramer how severely it affected his life.
“‘People aren’t showing up,’ the man thought. ”They’re going.”
He thought he’d be able to go to the same place. He placed the gun under his chin, and fired.
* * *
A part of Kramer did not want to go to the grave that night.
He was aware of the feeling of depression after taking his first antidepressants in his five years as the quarterback of the Bears. However, this was a different experience.
“When Griffen died, I’d not ever felt so sad in my lifebefore, Kramer said. Kramer declared. It was a feeling that the moment it’s here, it’s never going away. Even for one second.”
Kramer’s first suicidal idea occurred in 1994, during his first year in the Bears. He was not used to the burden of the expectations of a franchise.
Kramer was not a regular at high school. He finally got the nod in junior college and transferred onto North Carolina State. He was not selected from college and then quit the NFL to join to join the Canadian Football League.
“I was a no-one from the middle of nowhere,” the man said.
When he injured his knee Kramer stated that only one club responded to his calls and that was the Lions. Kramer was a success there. His win in the playoffs over the Cowboys following the 1991 season is still the Lions their only postseason victory. He was a part of the Lions the team that won the division title in 1993 before becoming an independent player in the offseason. The Bears signed the player to a three-year $8.1 million contract in 1994.
Chicago contacted me as their man and he told me that. “That’s not happened before in my life before.”
Kramer had a broken right shoulder during the Bears third game of 1994 . He played only three times throughout the season.
“That’s what led me to my first depression”, he explained. “I was getting being paid as a starter, but not actually being one. I thought that some people were probably watching me look a bit funny.”
Every day, Kramer debated whether he would like to turn to Halas Hall. After he made the turn the turn, he wondered if it would be a good idea to be able to get out of the car.
“It was an intense, dark internal cloud that was black”,” he explained. “Nothing felt comfortable. Breathing wasn’t a pleasant experience. Being awake wasn’t a good feeling. Eye contact was not an option.”
Kramer sought assistance. He saw an expert psychologist and started taking antidepressants. In the following season, he passed for 3,838 yards. This is the most prolific season for passing during Bears history.
His depression was frequent however, it never occurred because of football.
Kramer does not know if hitting his head throughout his 13-year professional career influenced his mental state , and he says that it’s “certainly within the possibilities. A few of his close family members believe it was.
After Griffen died, Kramer again sought help. He was able to connect with the former Lions player, Eric Hipple. Similar to Kramer, Hipple had lost the son of his teenage. Similar to Kramer, Hipple had tried to commit suicide by falling from a van that was travelling 70 mph but only to be able to live. Hipple was a resident of Michigan, Hipple ran a center to assist veterans and former athletes who were suffering from depression. Hipple invited Kramer to join the center in June of this year.
“It was the best place for me, however, I got there late the time he stated.
Kramer spent 30 days in prison and doesn’t know the way he returned home. The gun was waiting at the shop. He had cleared an background screening.
Kramer wrote suicide notes to his loved family members. However, just before Kramer pulled the trigger he started sending texts. One message was sent to his sister. Another one was for Chris Germann, a high school buddy who later would leave his position with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department after 34 years.
Germann had arrived at New Orleans, getting ready to register his son for his first year at college. In the course of dinner, his cell phone buzzed. He didn’t pay attention to the message until 10 minutes later.
The message was from Kramer who was requesting Germann to take care of his son. Kramer also informed him of what he was going to do, and also the location in which it was in which hotel.
If someone does that the person is screaming in anger, the Germann explained. “They’re trying to get out of it.”
Germann took off for his hotel room, and began dialing from his cell phone the son’s cellphone, his phone as well as the landline. He tried calling Kramer’s cell phone however, he did not respond. He called his former sheriff’s station , and was informed that an acquaintance was on patrol the night. He walked through the lobby of the hotel, a place that he was familiar with from his previous patrols around the neighborhood. He called paramedics.
The paramedics and police officers reached the Good Nite Inn, Germann was rerouted to the hotel room of Kramer, that he’d booked with his name on it. The phone came in. Germann thought he was late.
“I’ll be damned in the event that you don’t get a response in a timely manner,”” Germann stated. “He was moaning.”
Kramer was shot in self-defense. The bullet travelled under his chin and through his mouth and sinus cavity and then out of his forehead.
However, Kramer still lived.
I told him that he had to put down whatever was in his hands in order to get it out of his hand, Germann said. Germann told him.
The gun struck the floor.
He instructed Kramer to go through his door which he held open by putting bloody towels on it, and meet the police officer. He did.
With an injury to Kramer’s head Kramer left the house, via a set of steps and then into an ambulance waiting to be called.
Kramer was in a medically-induced sleep for about six weeks. He was in a coma for nine months, receiving medical attention. He doesn’t recall anything. It wasn’t until 3 years after that he discovered that he had sent the text messages and that a tiny portion of him was fighting to survive.
“There’s a part of my life that begins before I committed suicide in the first place, and then a great year that followed, and I haven’t a lot of memories of things that he mentioned. “What I do know about my personal life was relayed to me. This includes the information concerning the theft.”
* * *
A doctor who treated Kramer after he self-inflicted a fatal gunshot told him that he was fortunate that he could take part in every week in the lottery throughout his life.
The doctor could not have been more than a little off. Kramer’s skull was repaired and his brain was able to begin its long healing process, however his entire life was in chaos.
He was left fighting his way through what he described as a fraudulent marriage, and alleged theft from his wife, and a desire to alter his wife’s behavior. California conservatorship system, which he claimed made all of it possible.
Kramer along with Cortney Baird had been friends on and off over three decades. Six months after his suicide, Kramer said she reappeared in his life like she had never gone away. They began dating again and she later moved into his house with her daughter.
Kramer was declared disabled by a neuropsychologist, when the man shot himself. In retrospect, he wonders whether Baird was testing his cognitive abilities.
Kramer was able perform basic tasks and was able to fly to Chicago to take part in Bears minicamps 10 months later, after the suicide.
“But higher-level thinking was something I was unable to achieve I was unable to think at the upper level,” he added.
This is common among recovering patients as per the Dr. Andrew Dorsch, a neurologist at Rush University Medical Center who is a specialist in brain trauma and rehabilitation following these.
The process of making decisions is always on the spectrum and it’s always a spectrum,” said Dorsch who does not treat Kramer. The more complex decisions may become slightly more complicated.”
One difficult choice Kramer admitted he could not make for himself was to get married. On Dec. 22, 2016, Kramer wed Baird at the Santa Barbara (California) Courthouse. The wedding was scheduled in the same week Kramer was transferring control of his decision-making power to his sister.
Due to the injuries to his brain, Kramer claimed he wouldn’t be open to any suggestion when someone else advised him with a strong.
He didn’t disclose the purchase to anyone initially. Then, when Anna Dergan, his lifelong friend, discovered that he’d bought a ring became befuddled.
In the past four months Kramer’s cash had begun disappearing. Dergan initially became suspicious of the possibility that Baird had been stealing his cash. The first time she reported thefts to police on Oct. 19 in 2016. Kramer confessed to detectives days later that he did not acknowledge the accusations.
As Kramer recuperated from the brain injury he sustained, the trust fund he had set up paid his bills and enabled him to spending money on a monthly basis. He didn’t spend excessively, whether prior to or after the accident. However, by the middle of the year -less than an year after the suicide attempt Kramer declared that his checking account would be in the process of becoming overdrawn. The credit card Kramer had was utilized to fund cash advances.
It didn’t take too long for Dergan to express his anger.
“That’s me I am,” she stated. “I correct a mistake.”
The marriagehowever brought the investigation into an end. At a hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court one month after the wedding ceremony, Baird stated, ”I am apprehensive to having committed a crime before and I will take whatever action the court deems appropriate to prove that I am no any longer a threat to Baird according to court transcripts.
The man told her that she was not able to use credit cards or withdraw funds out of his bank account. It would take nearly three years prior to her being detained. The man claimed that he could not make complex choices, Kramer grew increasingly concerned about the fact that Baird had been draining him of funds however, they remained in contact.
In May of 2018, Kramer put an offer to purchase a home located in Southern California that he planned to sell with Baird. The sellers were willing to accept however, he explained, the sale stalled. Kramer’s conservator of finances — who was appointed due to fears about the way Baird was spending money that was Kramer’s — halted the sale. Kramer who’s brain was healing and recovering, said that the event brought him back to his senses. The following one month later, Kramer flew to Chicago to attend an event that was a Bears alumni golf event. After dinner with an ex- Bears player priest Kramer decided to voice his opinion that he was planning go home to say to Baird that he was seeking a divorce.
After he returned to Agoura Hills California and he came to tell Baird that he wanted to divorce and then went to bed. The next day, Kramer said, he made a cup of coffee, then went outside to read the newspaper. Baird according to him, assured him that she wouldn’t be getting divorced, and she insisted that she was not stealing from him. In the moment, Kramer could not prove around a quarter-million dollars including, he claimed, $10,000 from a memorial fund that was set in the wake of Griffen’s demise.
I apply my hand to the shoulder of her back and ask her to come back to her room and he says. She shook her hand off of the side of her shoulder and goes back into the room. There was nothing really happening.”
Kramer told me he started going around the house taking pictures of Baird and her daughter , ”as an indication that she was due to be leaving in the near future. After she was done and set them out, he threw them in front of by the entrance to the house.
Then, the police showed up.
Kramer told the officer that he asked him if he’d held Baird. He replied yes, but did not give any details. He was detained.
They don’t even have any idea about the brain damage I suffered He stated. “They know that I’m a guy who was accused of domestic violence.”
Kramer was able to raise the $50,000 to pay for his own bailout however, it took him one day to strip the cashier’s check out of the account that was situated in Florida. Kramer stayed the night in jail, unable lay down on a mattress that was just 1 inch on the concrete bench.
I knew what had occurred and I knew what happened,” he stated. “But I also knew that it was not happening.”
After Kramer had been released from prison, he could not go back home as Baird had a restraining warrant. Kramer had to wait Kramer 4 days get his wallet from the house he lived in. In those 4 days Baird resided at the Four Seasons, an expenditure she later justified in court papers.
The couple broke up. Kramer’s family and friends helped Kramer unravel the decades of his own life. In January of this year his marriage was dissolved. On February. 7 7, 2020 Baird has been charged with 12 felonies in connection with, among other factors, grand theft of an older or dependent adult as well as forgery and identity theft. A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for June 29.
Kramer said Baird was able to take about $300,000. He claimed he spent more than that in legal costs related to his conservatorship, the annulment and defense.
“I’d like to see her be imprisoned for life for eternity, Kramer said. Kramer declared.
Kramer cannot put any price on his fame. The arrest of Kramer on suspicion of causing corporal harm to an ex-spouse was featured in the national press. Later, he was charged with battery, a misdemeanor. In the year 2000, however, Los Angeles County dropped the charges against the man.
“When you’re born your image is the only thing that you own that nobody can remove the way you want it to,” Kramer stated. “In this case I was not guilty of anything. The crime was fraud, identity theft however none of these things could have happened if no medical issue prior to that. This medical condition allowed her to take on the actions she did.
There was no domestic violence. On the day I was arrested I was impervious to treatment -and not just on the day of my marriage , but throughout the months and days that came after.”
* * *
Kramer smiles when it is said that the general public’s knowledge about the conservatorship systemthe system in which the guardian is responsible for managing the finances and make decisions for those who is deemed to be incapacitated and end with Britney Spears.
Most people aren’t aware of this conservatorship system until they’re involved in it the court,” he added. “I’m the only one I know of who once was in, but I am currently out. Most of the time, you do not leave.”
Kramer believes the system did not work for him. His sister and aunt used the system to seek conservatorship over his estate and of Kramer’s personal choices. Kramer stated that his legal counsel was appointed by the court because he was in the camp of Baird.
If Kramer been in financial trouble and the state required the state to fund his conservatorship by a professional. Since he was not, Kramer suspects the system was motivated to make things more complicated in order to boost their billable hours.
“This is a system of law which is similar to an henhouse fox”, he said.
Dergan stated that Kramer’s story ”unveiled not just the shaky criminal justice system, but also the conservatorship. He was protected from Baird’s theft allegations and obtaining his marriage to be annulled could be a do-it-yourself thing according to her.
You don’t put off family members and the family members,”” Dergan said. It is not acceptable to ignore friends who have been in the person’s life for forty years, and then appoint a total stranger. And whatever the stranger says, it goes.”
Kramer along with Dergan are working on changing the system. The two had a meeting on the phone with California state senator. Robert Hertzberg to discuss Kramer’s experiences. They hope to assist in drafting legislation next year.
One modification Kramer and Dergan are seeking to implement is that, if there’s a police investigation in progress An incapacitated person must be placed into conservatorship, rendering things like a wedding arrangement legally unenforceable.
Everyone is vulnerable and be in the conservatorship courts system in the future, Kramer said.
“I’m trying to tell the world about this because it’s the direction that we’re all heading in the future,” he stated. And it doesn’t require an ax on the head.”
* * *
Kramer who is 56, was the coach of his team’s running games at Chaminade High School in West Hills, California, during the spring. The players have discussed with Kramer regarding his NFL career, but not about his suicide attempt.
If they’re old enough browse the internet or read newspapers They know what they’re doing,” he explained.
Kramer who has invested his time well and isn’t required to go back to work and would like to be an assistant coach at a high school in the future. He believes that reports of his arrest for domestic violence caused him to lose at least two chances.
In June of 2020 He was given a second opinion of the same test he underwent when he killed himself. The doctor issued him an official declaration of capacity.
“The brain can heal itself it self, Kramer said. Kramer declared.
Kramer’s memory has returned which is both a blessing and the curse. Kramer will never be able to be able to get over losing Griffen.
“He’s a big, compassionate man”, said Germann who was his high school buddy. He’s got a long way to go. . . . He’s made it this far, and recently, further.”
Over the decades, Germann has had the same answer every time Kramer asked him about his life. He would always say that”I’m better than I’m entitled to.”
In the past, Kramer said the same exact thing to him.
“I went through a time that was so dark that I believed the best choice was not exist to begin with, Kramer said. Kramer declared. “Now, I’m probably the most grateful person on the planet.”