From the NFL to Federal Prison, Aaron Hernandez is Not What He Aspired to Be
Everyone knew the name Aaron Hernandez in the NFL. Now everyone knows him for his role in the murders of three people.
A Double Life
Aaron Hernandez has always been a superstar when it came to football. Born in Bristol, Connecticut, he began playing football in high school and earned himself a spot on the team at the University of Florida. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 2010 NFL Draft and helped them secure a spot in the 2011 Super Bowl.
Everything in his life was perfect until he was arrested for the murder of his friend, 27-year-old Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez’s life during the day was football. At night, he hung out with gang members. After his father, Dennis, passed away when Aaron was in high school, Aaron’s behavior changed erratically. His father was abusive, reportedly beating and molesting Hernandez as a child. It was reported that while at the University of Florida, Hernandez got into a bar fight over a tab, and burst the manager’s eardrum. The University settled an agreement, and no charges were pursued.
Hernandez was also suspected as a culprit that shot and killed two men outside a club. Several witnesses were called in to identify Hernandez, but it was never confirmed that it was him. Another instance included him shooting his cousin, Alexander Bradley, in 2013, and leaving his body in a parking lot. Bradley survived but lost an eye, and later filed a civil suit in 2016.
His behavior even affected his chances in the NFL. On personality tests, he scored low on emotional adjustment and was kicked off of Florida’s team after his junior year.
Lloyd, Hernandez’s girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend, (did you get that?) was a semi-professional football player and one of Hernandez’s closest friends. Lloyd was shot and killed on June 17, 2013, and his body was found a mile away from Hernandez’s house in North Attleborough. Hernandez was arrested on June 26, after an overwhelming amount of DNA evidence matched him to the crime. A blunt was found near the body that matched Hernandez, and bullet casings found in Hernandez’s car matched those in Lloyd’s body.
He was sentenced to life on April 15, 2015. Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, friends of Hernandez, were with him on the night of the murder and were convicted of being accessories to the crime.
Hernandez wasn’t out of trouble quite yet. While investigating for Lloyd’s murder, officials turned to Hernandez’s cousin, Alexander Bradley. At his house, they found the car linked to the double shooting back outside the club back in 2012. Now, they could tie him to those murders as well. Bradley told police that one of the men spilled a drink on Hernandez, causing him to blow up in a fit of rage. He convinced Bradley to drive by the two men as they were leaving the club, shot them repeatedly, then drove away.
In Hernandez’s 2017 trial for the double murder, he testified that Bradley actually shot the two men. Hernandez was later acquitted of the crime.
Five days after his acquittal, on April 19, Hernandez was found dead by hanging in his prison cell. His death was ruled a suicide.
Why Did He Do It?
There isn’t just one reason as to why he ended his life. However, when his sudden death sparked speculation, experts began to wonder if there was a deeper reason besides spending life in prison.
Hernandez’s father was notoriously homophobic. He constantly yelled gay slurs at his sons when they did something wrong. It was something he did not want for his sons. After Hernandez’s death, a man named Dennis Sansoucie came forward and spoke about their relationship in high school. He said they began exploring a sexual relationship in middle school, which continued into high school. Hernandez dated Shayanna Jenkins throughout high school, whom he was engaged to and shared a daughter with at the time of his death.
Scientists later discovered that Hernandez’s brain scans showed high signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by consecutive concussions. Most lead to behavioral issues and early dementia, and many patients are coincidentally ex-football players. Labs reported that Hernandez’s CTE signs were astronomical.
Is the NFL to blame? Or was it his repressed sexuality brought to shame by his homophobic father? There’s no one reason why Hernandez took his own life. His rage began from an early age and resulted in multiple murders. The Netflix Documentary Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez depicts the murder trials and their effect on the sports world. It could also mean a big change for the future of the NFL’s health treatment for the players.