There is an axiom that states, “Hurt people. Hurt people.” So seems to be the case of disgraced NFL star Aaron Hernandez who was found hanging in his jail cell dead from an apparent suicide. But at what point did this “assassination of human potential” take place.
Hernandez was born November 6, 1989, in Bristol, Connecticut, to Dennis Hernandez, who was of Puerto Rican descent, and Terri Valentine-Hernandez, who is of Italian descent. Dennis died from complications from hernia surgery in January 2006, when Aaron was only 16. It was then that his mother noted that he began a pattern of defiance against authority. When he was 17, he was consuming alcohol at a Gainesville, Florida bar in April 2007. He refused to pay for his drink and while being escorted out of the bar, punched a bar employee that resulted in the man’s eardrum bursting. Despite police recommendations, the man refused to press charges and the incident was settled out of court.
He was a stellar athlete while playing for the University of Florida Gators and went on to be named All-American in 2009 when he was a junior. He decided to enter the NFL draft senior year in 2010. Hernandez was drafted in the fourth round by the New England Patriots in the 2010 draft pick. But soon information emerged that Hernandez had admitted to marijuana use and had failed multiple drug tests while in college. The Patriots decided to invest in Hernandez and the future of its football franchise and signed him to a four-year contract. He was also given a $200K signing bonus and another $700K in incentives to stay out of trouble.
However, staying out of trouble was something that Hernandez could not avoid and he faced a series of legal issues.
In 2012, Hernandez found himself involved in a double murder investigation in Boston, Massachusetts. On July 16, 2012, in Boston’s South End, Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu, 29, and Safiro Teixeira Furtado, 28, were killed by gunshots fired into their vehicle. On May 15, 2014, Hernandez was indicted on murder charges for the killings of de Abreu and Furtado with additional charges of armed assault and attempted murder associated with shots fired at the surviving occupants in the vehicle. This led to his most recent trial that started on March 1, 2017. On April 14, 2017, Hernandez was found not guilty of the murders and most of the other charges. He was found guilty of illegal possession of a handgun.
On June 13, 2013, Alexander S. Bradley, Hernandez’s friend, filed a lawsuit against the spiraling NFL star. Hernandez had shot him while the two were riding in a car on Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County, following an altercation at a Miami strip club; Bradley alleged that he lost his right eye as a result.
That same year on June 18, 2013, Hernandez was once again the subject of a murder investigation, once again involving friend, Odin Lloyd. Police found Lloyd’s body with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back approximately one mile away from Hernandez’s home. Hernandez was arrested and his contract with the New England Patriots was dropped 90 minutes after he was taken into custody. Ultimately, Hernandez was found guilty on April 15, 2015 for murder in the first degree, and received a sentence of life in prison without a possibility of parole, as well as a conviction on five firearm charges.
Hernandez had it all and lost it all literally by his own hand. His life was a lesson not just on a fall from glory, but also the effects of suffering. Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk known for his teachings and the role of suffering. One of his many quotes is the following:
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
Aaron Hernandez caused suffering to many people, including himself. Hernandez leaves behind a 5-year-old daughter who will suffer knowing that her father died in prison, suffering.