The National Football League (NFL) has witnessed its fair share of tragic and controversial happenings, and one that ranks right up there is that of Aaron Hernandez. A tight end, Hernandez was a star player in high school and college and was eventually drafted into the NFL in 2010. He went on to make an immediate impact in the league, and many penciled him down for greatness.
What, however, unraveled was a fantastic tale of a criminal trial, jail time, and eventual suicide after the player murdered a pal named Odin Lloyd. Since then, Hernandez’s life has been x-rayed from several angles as many try to make sense of what led to his downfall. Such investigation has so far revealed a complicated background filled with physical and sexual abuse, drug use, wild tendencies, and psychological issues.
His Troubled Childhood and How He Became a Football Player
Aaron Josef Hernandez was born in Bristol, Connecticut, in 1989, to Dennis Hernandez and Terri Valentine Hernandez. He grew up alongside his elder brother, D.J., and had a less than ideal childhood. Both of his parents indulged in drugs and petty crimes. They also had turbulent matrimony, which was physically abusive. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Aaron’s father equally turned his physical abuse to his sons, and this predictably affected them.
As a coping mechanism, Aaron Hernandez took to wild tendencies, as well as marijuana use. He also developed an interest in sports, especially football, and turned out to be a star player at his high school, Bristol Central High School, where his football skills started to manifest. His splendid skills fetched him several accolades, including Gatorade Football Player of the Year in Connecticut. He also received US Army All-American honors and led his school to the Central Connecticut Conference Southern Division Championship in the year 2006.
For college, Aaron Hernandez attended the University of Florida, where he continued his impressive football career. In his three years at the institution, from 2007 to 2009, the tight end led his school to the National Championship in 2008. He also tallied astonishing stats and received several accolades, including the best tight end in America in 2009. All this brilliance on the field of play was, however, tainted by off-field issues involving the young man. He frequently used marijuana, which resulted in failed drug tests, and had a penchant for physical altercations.
He Had a Short But Superb NFL Career
Making it to the NFL should have been a foregone conclusion for Aaron Hernandez, but he was constantly rejected by NFL teams due to his failure of drug tests. It wasn’t just about the drugs; the player was inflicted with several negative records, including bad peers, and other demeaning acts of youthful exuberance. Fortunately for him, he was finally drafted by New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft with the 113th overall pick.
Aaron took NFL by storm in the 2010 season with his skillful tactics, setting a rookie standard for tight ends on the team. The next season, he combined forces with his fellow tight end, Rob Gronkowski to lead the Patriots to a 14-2 record, as well as a Super Bowl XLVI berth. They ended up losing to the New York Giants afterward, but his remarkable performance earned him a five-year extension of his contract in 2012.
Hernandez gleefully accepted the contract and kept on soaring until 2013 when he was charged with the murder of an acquaintance. His team, The New England Patriots, immediately terminated his playing contract. He also lost juicy sponsorships that he had with several big brands. All these resulted in the dwindling of his fortunes, and his estate eventually plummeted from about $8 million to only $50,000.
How He Was Convicted and Sent to Jail
Aaron Hernandez was a fellow who had been involved in several skirmishes all through his life, but he eventually bit more than he could chew after the murder of a semi-professional football player, Odin Lloyd, who happened to be his girlfriend’s sister’s fiancée, on the 17th of June 2013. After intense investigations by the police, traces led back to the tight end star, and he was arrested on June 26.
He was, therefore, charged with first-degree murder and five counts of firearm possession. Aaron’s trial ran from September 2013 to April 2015. After glaring pieces of evidence were reviewed, it was proven beyond doubt that he was the murderer and was immediately sentenced to life imprisonment.
Following the judgment, Hernandez was transferred to the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Massachusetts to commence his service. He spent about two years in jail, during which he appealed against his conviction. The player also became a born again Christian and received frequent visits from his estranged mother, his long-time girlfriend, as well as his little daughter.
Aaron’s Death and Revelations About His Sexuality
Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in his cell using bedsheets from his mattress on the 19th of April 2017. He left suicide notes for his fiancée, daughter, and lawyer. He also copiously referred to the popular bible verse, John 3:16, and wrote it on his forehead and the walls of his cell. His lawyer later tried to peddle insinuations that he may have been murdered, but he later accepted that it was indeed a case of a clear suicide.
Following Hernandez’s demise, several investigations have been done into his background, and one of the things that have been uncovered is that the former NFL star was dealing with several issues, including his sexuality. According to reports, Hernandez was sexually abused by a man whilst he was just a little boy. He, therefore, struggled with his homosexuality for years, even though he had a steady girlfriend.
Following the player’s demise, a male high school classmate came out to reveal that they had a romantic relationship for about four years in school. A former inmate at the correctional center where he was incarcerated also made similar claims. According to the man named Kyle Kennedy, he and Hernandez were very tight and did lots of stuff together, including cooking and listening to music. They also hung out regularly for smoking and getting high.
Hernandez’s newly unearthed sexuality seemed to be that of a closeted gay man who was homophobic. He, however, came clean to his brother, mother, and lawyer but not his fiancée. The former fiancée has since revealed that she wished he had told her as she would have understood, and it wouldn’t have changed how she felt about him. The lady further stated that love is a beautiful thing, and there was nothing shameful about it.
The Loved Ones He Left Behind
Aaron Hernandez had a family of his own before his death. Though he was not married, he was in a relationship with Shayanna Jenkins, with whom he had a daughter, Avielle Janelle Jenkins-Hernandez. The couple, who began their relationship in 2007, grew from lovers to fiancé, following their engagement in 2012. They remained together until Hernandez’s eventual demise, even though he cheated a few times.
Shayanna stuck by her man all through his ordeal and often visited him in prison. He later left her a suicide note in which he described her as an angel, as well as the true definition of God’s Love. The lady is now picking up the pieces of her life and is engaged to her new beau, former football player, Dino Guilmette. She has also welcomed a daughter with him, and the entire family now makes their home in Rhodes Island.
A very important member of the family is the daughter that Shayanna had with Hernandez, Avielle. Avielle is growing in leaps and bounds, and she resides in Rhodes Island with her mother and her family. She is a bubbly young lady and makes frequent appearances on her mother’s Instagram page.
On one occasion, her mother remembered the anniversary of her father’s death and described the young girl as having her father’s energy and personality. She also stated that they kept him close in their hearts.