Family holds funeral for Aaron Hernandez, many questions remain unanswered

April 24, 2017

NFL

Defendant Aaron Hernandez listens during his double murder trial in Suffolk Superior Court, Wednesday, March 29, 2017, in Boston. Hernandez is on trial for the July 2012 killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado who he encountered in a Boston nightclub. The former New England Patriots NFL football player is already serving a life sentence in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, Pool)

By: Ana Kieu

Aaron Hernandez was a former New England Patriots tight end who was convicted of killing semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd in 2013. Lloyd played for the Boston Bandits as a linebacker. As a result, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He was also indicted for killing both Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in 2012, however, the judges acquitted him of a double homicide.

Despite having dug himself in a hole, Hernandez remained vehement. How did all of this happen?

Aaron was the son of custodian Dennis Hernandez and school secretary Terri Valentine-Hernandez. He was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He attended Bristol Central High School, where he played for the Rams, starting as a wide receiver before shifting to a tight end. In his senior year of high school, he was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Connecticut after recording 67 receptions for 1,807 yards, 24 offensive touchdowns, 72 tackles, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and four blocked kicks on defense. He also set the Connecticut record with 376 receiving yards in a single game and 180.7 receiving yards per game.

Hernandez’s beautiful life no longer existed. His father died from hernia surgery complications when he was 16. His father was only 49 years old. This moment possibly changed his life forever. He became a quiet person who kept to himself. He opted to play football at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, instead of his initial plan to follow his brother D.J.’s footsteps at the nearby University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut.

Hernandez played college football under head coach Urban Meyer. In his freshman year, he started three games with the Florida Gators, finishing the 2007 season with nine receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns. In his sophomore year, he started 11 out of 13 games, finishing the 2008 season with 34 receptions for 381 yards and five touchdowns. In his junior year, he led the Gators with 68 receptions for 850 yards and five touchdowns. He also won the John Mackey Award as the country’s best tight end in 2009.

Hernandez forwent his senior year to enter the 2010 NFL Draft. He finished his college career with 111 receptions for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns as a Gator. He was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round with the No. 113 pick in the draft. He signed a four-year contract with a $200,000 signing bonus on June 8, 2010. New England also drafted tight end Rob Gronkowski the day before.

In 2010, Hernandez became the youngest active player on an active roster in the NFL. He finished the season with 45 receptions for 563 yards and six touchdowns. In 2011, he wore the No. 85 on his jersey, but ultimately decided to wear his college number of No. 81. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate. In 2012, he signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension with a $12.5 million signing bonus.

Hernandez’s career was great, but his life slowly went downhill. In 2012, he was indicted for the double homicide of de Abreu and Furtado, but was eventually found not guilty. In 2013, he murdered Lloyd, the boyfriend of his fiancee’s sister. He was charged with first degree murder and five gun charges. These incidents weren’t only wrong, they were also really unbelievable. How could a successful man commit such crimes?

Yes, Hernandez experienced grief after his father’s death, but there are still other possibilities surrounding his personal life that never separated from the workplace. He committed suicide by hanging himself with a bed sheet in the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts on April 19, 2017. He left three suicide notes behind. His fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, demanded that the Massachussetts district attorney must provide copies of the notes. The family received the notes just moments before his private funeral at the O’Brien Funeral Home in Bristol.

Was Hernandez bisexual? Many sources say that he had an alleged male lover in prison. He apparently seduced a 22-year-old armed robber named Kyle Kennedy. We don’t know if this actually happened because his sex life was discreet. If he was bisexual, it’s understandable why he tried to conceal his sexual orientation. The NFL is arguably the most homophobic sports league. Football is a very macho and masculine sport. Despite defensive end Michael Sam becoming the first openly gay player in the league, the homophobia hasn’t ended.

Whether or not Hernandez was bisexual, this provided a twist in the aftermath of his death. The NFL cannot probe about sexual orientation in the hiring process, but gay-hate crimes are common and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did hide his sexual orientation. He seemed like a shy, reserved person. Whatever happens, happens, but one thing’s for sure — he wasted his talent and threw away a career with a plethora of golden opportunities.

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