By Bryce Carter
BOSTON, MA- Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction was found dead in his prison cell after hanging himself early Wednesday morning. This comes just days after he was acquitted for a different double murder charge. Guards at the Souza-Barnowski in Shirley, Massachusetts found him unresponsive in his cell just after 3 a.m. He was found hung from a bedsheet that was attached to a cell window. Hernandez was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial-Health Alliance Hospital in Leominster about an hour later. He was 27 years old.
Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. Lloyd was murdered on June 17, 2013 in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. Hernandez, along with two others, was arrested on June 27th of that year. He was released by the Patriots 90 minutes after his arrest. Hernandez was found guilty of first degree murder, as well as 5 firearm charges. He was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
The former NFL tight end’s brain will be released to be studied about possible trauma and CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease, found in patients that have received a severe blow or repeated blows to the head, commonly found in former football players, such as former San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau who committed suicide in 2012. Doctors say that those affected may suffer memory loss, impaired speech, disorientation, and are more susceptible to suicide. CTE can only be diagnosed after death, thus making it very hard to research.
Aaron Hernandez played college football at the University of Florida under head coach Urban Meyer, where he was a part of the 2009 BCS National Championship team, that also included former NFL star Tim Tebow. He lead the Gators in receiving yards in the National Championship game with 57 yards on 5 receptions in Florida’s 24-14 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners.
Hernandez was drafted with the 113th overall pick in the 4th round by the New England Patriots. In this 3 seasons playing under coach Bill Belichick, Hernandez had 175 receptions for 1,956 total yards. He averaged 11.2 yards per catch, and had a career total of 18 touchdowns.
Although Hernandez has passed the Patriots may still owe his family the money from his guaranteed contract. According to Massachusetts law, if one dies during the appeal of a conviction, that original conviction becomes null and void. Thus, meaning that Hernandez technically never violated his contract with the Patriots, meaning that his 4 year old daughter is entitled to the guaranteed $15 million that the Patriots owe him.
Learning of this death days after Hernandez was acquitted of a double murder case has people in shock. “I really thought it was a hoax, like the ones you see on Facebook,” student Shane Althouse says about the suicide. Althouse also said that it is sad to see how his life turned out, and how it ended.
Hernandez leaves behind his former fiance and 4 year old daughter. When found in his cell, Hernandez had written the bible verse “John 3:16” across his forehead. That verse reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”