Former Patriot Hernandez found dead in prison

Brian Abbate, Chief Copy Editor

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     On Wednesday morning at 3:05 a.m., former New England Patriots’ tight end Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell. Hernandez committed suicide by hanging himself with a bedsheet, according to Massachusetts Department of Correction spokesman Christopher M. Fallon.
“Mr. Hernandez hanged himself using a bedsheet that he attached to his cell window,” the Department of Corrections said in its statement. “Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.”

      The statement also added that Hernandez was housed in a single cell in general population at the Souza- Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass. Hernandez had been serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a former semi-professional football player who was dating Hernandez’s fiancé’s sister at the time of the homicide. The incident took place on June 17, 2013, presumably over trust issues Hernandez had developed with Lloyd, a former close friend.

      Hernandez was recently acquitted of two counts of murder in the killing of two men in a drive-by shooting that took place outside of a Boston nightclub in 2012. He was visibly emotional in the courtroom after the verdict was announced. Hernandez was overjoyed as tears flowed from his face. Just a few days later, he was found dead in his prison cell.

     Family members and close friends agreed, when speaking to the media, that Hernandez would never do such a thing as to kill himself. There are accusations floating around Twitter of foul play, but we should know within the next week or so exactly what happened on the morning of April 19, 2017.
On the same day that most of Hernandez’s former team, the New England Patriots, headed to the White House to visit with President Donald Trump (a tradition amongst professional sports teams in the United States after winning a championship), many questions and thoughts were floating through the players’ minds. Even though the man committed an unforgivable atrocity in murdering Mr. Lloyd, he was still their friend, their brother.

     Hernandez was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Florida product was not the only tight end taken by New England that year, as All-Pro Rob Gronkowski was taken just two rounds earlier. The rookies had no idea if they’d be competing against each other for a starting role come fall.

     During his rookie campaign, Hernandez reeled in 45 catches for 563 yards and six touchdowns. The following season he had his best career year, hauling in 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns. The following season was the last time he’d see the gridiron. In his (unknown at the time) farewell season, Hernandez caught 51 balls for 483 yards and tacked on five touchdowns.

     Between Gronkowski and Hernandez, the Patriots had a two headed monster at tight end. In 2012, the duo set records for most combined catches, touchdowns and yards in a season amongst tight ends on the same team with 169, 24 and 2,237, respectively. However as we know, that summer everything would change.

     On June 26, 2013, Hernandez was handcuffed and removed from his home in North Attenborough, Mass. He was arrested and taken into custody by the police after Lloyd’s body was discovered a mere half mile away from Hernandez’s home. A man who just a year prior signed a five-year contract worth $40 million to play football was now headed to prison for first-degree murder.

     Many questions remain as the nation tries to process this tragedy. It is absolutely possible to be angry over the murder of Odin Lloyd while still being upset over the suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Not because he was a great football player but because no one wants to ever see someone end their own life. Regardless of your opinion on Hernandez, remember that a family is grieving, just as one did when Lloyd was murdered in 2012.