The Secret Life Of Aaron Hernandez
The reality is, given Aaron Hernandez’s long history of rages, criminal behavior, and violence, perhaps the most shocking part is that he was not behind bars sooner.
In 2013, football star Aaron Hernandez had it all: He was one of the NFL’s most promising tight ends, had a beautiful fiancé and a young daughter, and had just signed a $40 million contract extension to play for the New England Patriots.
But on June 26, 2013, Hernandez’s life as he knew it came to an end when he was charged with first-degree murder in the death of semi-pro player Odin Lloyd. Soon, a flood of media reports emerged referring to his “shocking double life.”
But the reality is, given Hernandez’s long history of rages, criminal behavior, and violence, perhaps the most shocking part is that he was not behind bars sooner.
Between 2007 and 2013, Hernandez was implicated, investigated, or prosecuted for various violent incidents — including multiple gunshot victims.
So what made Hernandez so angry?
Hernandez grew up in Bristol, Connecticut. When he was in sixth grade, his mother, Terri, began taking bets for an illegal gambling organization. But Hernandez’s father, Dennis, who friends and family described as his “anchor,” was a positive influence in his life who pushed Hernandez to practice and train hard.
But at age 16, the teen lost the grounding influence in his life when his father died from complications after routine hernia surgery in 2006. After his father’s death, Hernandez’s life appeared to head into a downward spiral from which he never recovered. “Everyone was close to my father, but I was the closest,’’ he told USA Today in 2009. “When that happened, who do I talk to? Who do I hang with? It was tough.’’
Hernandez left high school halfway through his senior year in January 2007 to join the University of Florida Gators. Soon, he was making headlines for the wrong reasons.
On April 28, 2007, Hernandez was with Tim Tebow at The Swamp, a restaurant near campus. According to a police report, Hernandez got into a fight with the manager of the restaurant after Hernandez refused to pay his bar tab. The manager’s eardrum was ruptured, but the battery charge against Hernandez was later dropped after a settlement was reached. Hernandez appeared to suffer no consequences for his violent act.
Later in 2007, Hernandez was among three Florida football players and another NFL player who were questioned by Gainesville police after a double shooting that happened after a Florida loss. According to the police, the players provided them with information and — once again — no charges were filed.
Hernandez also tested positive for marijuana and was suspended for one game.
Though he won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end as a junior, reports of his legal troubles made it to the NFL, and he was only a fourth-round draft pick for the New England Patriots. Despite this setback, Hernandez soon became a star. After his second season, he signed a five-year contract extension worth $40 million.
Also in 2007, he reconnected with his former high school sweetheart Shayanna Jenkins, and the couple later became engaged and, in 2012, had a daughter.
In the early hours of June 17, 2013, Hernandez’s friend Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who was dating Shayanna’s sister, Shaneah Jenkins, was shot seven times. Lloyd’s body was dumped in an industrial park in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Prosecutors say Lloyd was partying with Hernandez just before his death, and last seen with Hernandez and Hernandez’s two associates, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, around 2:30 A.M. in a rented silver Nissan Altima.
Investigators in the case found an overwhelming amount of evidence, including a shell case and a wad of gum connected to him in the industrial park pit where Lloyd’s body was found. Additionally, surveillance video from security cameras at the industrial park showed the Altima heading toward a secluded area at 3:22 A.M.
At the same time, chilling text messages from Lloyd’s phone were sent to his sister telling her he was with “Nfl,” adding, “just so u know.”
Hernandez was arrested in June 2013 and charged with the murder. His motive for killing Lloyd, according to Newsweek, could have been the fact that Lloyd allegedly knew that Hernandez was bisexual. Hernandez’s fiancé, however, has vehemently denied the rumors that Hernandez may have had relationships with men.
A few days later, the Patriots dropped him from the team.
The investigation into Lloyd’s death led investigators to suspect Hernandez in another double homicide. On July 16, 2012, Hernandez was partying at a Boston club on the same night that two other men were found dead. Investigators would later allege that Hernandez shot and killed Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado because one of them bumped into him, spilling his drink, and then refused to apologize.
Reports of Hernandez’s dark side continued to multiply. “He went on debauches to strip clubs, dropping $10,000 at a time. In addition to the mansion he shared with his fiancée and stocked with criminal parasites, he kept a secret apartment or flop house,” Sally Jenkins wrote in The Washington Post.
Also in 2013, a friend of Hernandez’s named Alexander Bradley filed a civil lawsuit against him in a Florida federal court. Bradley claimed that on February 13, 2013, Hernandez had shot him while the two were riding in a car following an altercation at a Miami strip club. Bradley alleged that he lost his right eye as a result.
On April 15, 2015, Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing Lloyd. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was also tried for the 2012 double homicide of Abreu and Furtado, but was acquitted of these charges on April 14, 2017.
On April 19, 2017, Hernandez hanged himself naked in his cell in the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts.
He scrawled the Bible verse from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life,” on his forehead with red ink. Hernandez also made red marks on his hands and feet with the pen that seemed to mimic stigmata.
While behind bars, Hernandez allegedly had a relationship with Kyle Kennedy, who was incarcerated in 2015 for robbing a gas station with a “long butcher-style knife.” The former player’s family have denied that Hernandez and Kennedy had a homosexual relationship.
At the request of his family, Hernandez’s brain was released to Boston University to be studied for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease found in people who have had a severe blow or repeated blows to the head. In September 2017, researchers at the Boston University CTE Center released a statement diagnosing Hernandez as having brain injuries consistent with CTE, stage 3 out of 4, at the time of his death.
The statement noted that “CTE is associated with aggressiveness, explosiveness, impulsivity, depression, memory loss, and other cognitive changes,” and, shockingly, said that Hernandez had “the most severe case of [CTE] medically seen” in a person of his age.