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.
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.