How do you go from signing a $40 million contract with one of the biggest football teams in the U.S. to ending your life in a miserable jail cell, with a murder charge hanging over your head?

Three years after his death, the tragic story of Aaron Hernandez is still full of unanswered questions. Was it one murder, or were there three? And the most riveting question: Why?

On April 19, 2017, Aaron Hernandez was found hanging from his cell window, with a noose improvised from bedsheets around his neck. He was only 27 years old.

Debby Wong /

His death put an end to a story that had captivated the public for four years, ever since the famous New England Patriots player had been arrested in connection with the murder of one Odin Lloyd.

A meteoric rise to fame followed by an equally quick fall from grace, that’s how the life of Hernandez can best be described.

The media have amply debated the facts in the Hernandez case, but what is not clear to this day is what caused the promising young athlete to unravel.

The Domineering Father

Aaron Hernandez was born in 1989 in Bristol, Connecticut, and much of his childhood was spent in the shadow of his father, Dennis Hernandez, an often violent man who pushed his two boys to excel in sports.

He himself a football player, Dennis Hernandez didn’t want anything less than his sons following the family tradition and becoming star athletes.

When he thought the boys did not try hard enough, he would beat them. When he was drunk, he would beat them for no reason. Friends of Aaron Hernandez recalled that he both feared and adored his father.


This would explain why the boy’s life first started to unravel in 2006, following the death of his father after a short illness.

Aaron Hernandez was just 16 at the time. He started doing drugs and left high school the following year to join the University of Florida Gators.

Football was all that kept him going at the time, and his father would have probably been proud to see his son forging ahead with a sports career.

His life outside the field was erratic to use a mild term. In April, 2007, he was involved in a bar fight in Florida, but the matter was hushed up on account of him being a rising football star.

Five months later, he was accused of a double homicide, but although one witness initially identified him as the perpetrator, the matter was later dropped.

The Chance Of A Lifetime

In 2010, the New England Patriots took a gamble recruiting the young Hernandez, who was, indeed, a great player with an impressive record, but who was also seen as a high-risk investment because of his drug problem and his wild character.

The time spent with the New England Patriots was the best of his short life. He promised to give up on drugs and undergo regular testing, but it is unclear if this ever happened.

All that mattered were results, and his performance with the Patriots was so good that by the end of the second season, in 2012, he was offered $40 million for a five-year contract.

Tragically, over the next five years, Hernandez would be making the headlines with his criminal trial, not with his athletic performance.

The Charges Against Aaron Hernandez

The troubles started one month before the signing of that fabulous contract, in July, 2012, when Hernandez was at a Boston nightclub where he had a brawl with two men who were shot dead a few hours later.

Hernandez was later charged with the murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, and the reason for the fatal shooting is mind-boggling.

According to the prosecution, one of the two victims, Daniel de Abreu, accidentally bumped into Hernandez, spilled his drink, and did not apologize. Later, Hernandez shot but failed to kill the only witness who linked him to the murder.

However, by the time he was charged with the double murder in 2014, Aaron Hernandez was already in jail, awaiting trial for the killing of Odin Lloyd. Odin Lloyd was a semi-pro football player and a friend of Hernandez.

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Lloyd was dating the sister of the famous player’s fiancee, and they frequently partied together.

They had been partying together on June 17, 2013, and a few hours later, Lloyd’s bullet-ridden body was discovered in an industrial park in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, half a mile from Hernandez’s home. 

According to witnesses, Lloyd was last seen alive in a car with Hernandez and two associates of him.

The car was driving towards the industrial park where between 3:23 and 3:27, several shots were heard.

Minutes later, video cameras recorded the car going back to the Hernandez residence with only three men on board.

The Fall

Aaron Hernandez tried to convince his team managers that he had nothing to do with the murder, but the New England Patriots immediately went into damage control mode and announced they would cut him off if he would be charged in the Lloyd case.

The end of Aaron Hernandez’s career came on June 26 when he was arrested in connection with the murder.

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

The Patriots fired him so quickly the prosecution did not even have the time to present the official charges.

Even the memorabilia on sale on the team’s website was removed. It was like Hernandez had never existed.

In the space of two hours, Aaron Hernandez went from being a star football player to being a murder suspect awaiting trial. He became inmate 174954 and spent the rest of his days in a 7×10-foot cell.

Hidden Homosexuality?

No motive was ever found for the Lloyd murder. All that is known is that Lloyd might have seen the collection of firearms Hernandez kept at his house, and there were rumors about a “conversation” between the two.

However, given the incident with the spilled drinks, it is clear Hernandez had serious anger problems.

In 2015, Hernandez was found guilty in the Lloyd case and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Oddly enough, he did not end his life then, but only in 2017, five days after being acquitted in the Breu-Furtado murder trial. 

It was only after the suicide of Aaron Hernandez that the media started talking about the late player’s sexuality and how this might have played a role in his life.

It was alleged that he was bisexual, and he was afraid his attraction to men might come to light.

Some say this is the reason he killed Lloyd, who had somehow discovered his secret.

Yet, Hernandez would not be the first gay man to struggle with his sexuality, and this is not a reason to kill someone.

Looking back at the sad story of Aaron Hernandez, one thing that can be said is that he could not cope with the fame and fortune associated with his status as a star football player.

His was a case of too much, too soon, maybe. Couple that with the perception that nothing could touch him because of who he was, and you have a recipe for disaster.

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