The former Patriots tight end, Aaron Hernandez, was found hanged in his prison cell last Wednesday morning, the same day that the Patriots paid their visit to the White House as Super Bowl champions. It happened at an interesting time, just days after he was acquitted of double murder charges from 2012. The 27-year-old who was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin L. Lloyd was found after he hanged himself with a bed sheet attached to the window in his cell, Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, a maximum-secruity prison in Shirley, MA. His body was found at around 3:05 a.m. after a guard forced his way through the door because Hernandez had jammed from the inside to keep potential rescuers out. He was immediately transported to UMass Leominster. Lifesaving techniques were used on him in attempt to resuscitate him; however, he was pronounced dead at 4:07 a.m. The Massachusetts medical examiner ruled the death a suicide. His brain was transported to Boston University where head injury and concussion doctors will study it in search of any indication of repeated trauma possibly suffered during his football career.
Just before Hernandez’s funeral began in Connecticut, a judge in New Bedford ordered that the notes left by Hernandez be released to his family. Hernandez’s lawyer urged the judge to release the notes to them in hopes that it would be conducive to their mourning process. Additionally, these notes may help survivors make sense of rumors and media reports about his sexual identity. The prison is currently on lockdown for an investigation into the same matters. Law enforcement sources say he wrote the biblical citation “John 3:16” on his forehead, possibly referencing romantic relationships with men. His family was neither able to deny nor confirm if he had a gay lover in the prison. Two of the letters found in his cell were addressed to his daughter and fiancé. He wrote, “I love you and please don’t cry.” A jailhouse friend claimed that the third note left behind was addressed to him, but investigators are uncertain.
About 50 of Hernandez’s family and friends gathered Monday for the funeral ceremony in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut, honoring Hernandez’s life and recognizing his many accomplishments in the NFL. His family plans to have his remains cremated. His family requested to say their say final good-byes in private and were very appreciative of all the thoughtful condolences sent their way. They are unsure where the burial site will be.
Hernandez was a highly skilled and dedicated tight end for the Patriots. His loss is extremely tragic to not only the Patriots, but to the planet. He will be missed by his friends, family, and teammates. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know why he (along with many other athletes facing similar circumstances) chose to throw his life away, as well as Odin Lloyd’s and perhaps two others. We can’t ever really understand why people make these kinds of choices when they have so much, but it is terrible and sad for all.