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Aaron Hernandez left a message of eternal life as he willfully took his own life in prisonApril 19, 2017
By: Jack Strickland
Aaron Hernandez is dead.
The gifted 27-year-old football player, who starred for the Florida Gators and the New England Patriots, reportedly hanged himself in his prison cell early this morning. His death comes five days after he was found not guilty, in a Boston courtroom, of double murder and other lesser charges.
The jury that found him not guilty also convicted him of possession of an unregistered firearm. On that conviction, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Locke sentenced Hernandez to a prison term of not more than five years, and not less than four years. That sentence was to be served consecutively with all previous sentences.
Hernandez was serving a sentence of life without parole for a previous murder conviction. He stood convicted of the 2013 execution style murder of his friend, Oiden Lloyd. Lloyd was the brother of Hernandez’s fiancee’s sister.
He had seemed upbeat
Hernandez’s death caught his friends and family by surprise. They said he was upbeat after his acquittal, last week. Miami Dolphins Center Mike Pouncey, a college teammate and close friend of Hernandez, said he talked to his friend Tuesday. He said it was a positive conversation. He said there was no indication that Hernandez was suicidal.
Spectators in the Boston courtroom observing Hernandez’s trial, last week, were moved by the interaction between Hernandez and his four-year-old daughter, Avielle. At every break Hernandez and his cute daughter blew kisses back and fourth to each other. It appeared that Hernandez had everything to live for.
Jose Baez, Hernandez’s lead attorney, expressed shock at the death. He said there were fatal errors in the trial that resulted in Hernandez’s sentence of life without parole. Baez said the sentence was sure to be overturned on appeal. In an interview with ESPN he said Hernandez knew he would be free to enjoy life with his daughter, family, and friends sometime soon. He could offer no explanation for the death of his client,
Aaron Hernandez was a charismatic gifted athlete who seemed to have it all. He appeared be living his dream. He was an All American football player at Florida. He was awarded the John Mackey trophy which is presented each year to the nation’s top college tight end.
He was a key member of the Gators 2008 national championship team which was quarterbacked by his friend Tim Tebow.
Drafted by the Patriots
Hernandez left college a year early to answer the call of the NFL. He was drafted by the New England Patriots. He played on their championship teams. At age 22 he was a multimillionaire. He became the primary passing target of All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady. He sighed a 40 million dollar contract extension with the Patriots. He seemed to have the world by the tail. He was living his dream.
Then he was arrested for the murder of his friend Oiden Lloyd.
He was convicted at trial of first degree murder. He was sentenced to life without parole. His dreams came crashing down. Shortly after he arrived at prison to commence serving that sentence he was charged with the two other cold case murders for which he was acquitted last week.
He may have faced other serious gun charges in Florida, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. It seemed clear that he was going to be in court for several years. There was zero chance he could ever return to play NFL football or reclaim the life he had grown to love.
Hernandez did not tip his hand. Apparently he gave no indication to anyone that he was planning to take his life. Observers in the courtroom during his weeks long trial this month did notice changes in Hernandez. He seemed more outgoing. He seemed at ease with himself and his situation. He was friendlier with court personnel and spectators.
He left a message
He did not leave a suicide note. But, before he took his bed sheet, tied one end around his prison cell window, the other end around his neck, and choked himself to death, he wrote a scripture on his forehead. It read, “John 3:16”.
That scripture reads: “For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
That is the scripture his friend, Tim Tebow, wrote on his eye-black for the 2008 national championship game. Google reported that the resulting google searches for “John 3:16”, during the world-wide telecast of that game, surpassed the number of any previous specific Google searches.
Those close to Hernandez remain shocked and dismayed. His good friend and former teammate, Mike Pouncey, sent an Instagram message.
It showed a smiling picture of Hernandez and said: “To my friend my brother! Through thick or thin right or wrong we never left each other’s side. Today my heart hurts as I got the worse news I could have imagined. It was just a day ago we shared our last convo. I will forever miss you and love you bro. We will meet again rest easy!”
Pouncey and Hernandez shared a special bond. They became close as teammates at Florida. They achieved parallel rags-to-riches athletic careers. Hernandez signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots shortly before his arrest. Pouncey recently signed a 52 million contract with the Miami Dolphins.
Their dream had them living out the good life together. Perhaps Hernandez realized that his part of the dream was forever gone. That may be why he chose to end his life.
Somewhere, something went wrong
Court documents portray Hernandez as a cold-bloodied monster. His friends and associates challenge that characterization.
It is clear that something went wrong with Hernandez. Police records of gun violence surrounding him stand as mute testimony to the fact that he was a troubled kid who grew into a dangerous adult.
Where did he go wrong?
Some say the changes in his life can be traced to the death of Dennis Hernandez, his father. He died following routine hernia surgery when Hernandez was 16.
He was Hernandez’s role model and mentor. When Hernandez came to college a year later he was already showing signs of being out of control. He had several scrapes with the law while he was at Florida. He clearly needed four years in college to mature and develop a stable course in life. But, the call of big money in the NFL was too strong. He left college at the end of his junior year. His life spiraled out of control after that.
Friends will miss him. They will remember him for his exceptional athletic ability, his warm smile, and his dedication to his family and those he considered his teammates. And, they will sadly stay awake nights wondering if they could have done anything to divert Hernandez from the course that led to his destruction.