Monday, April 20, 2015

Aaron Hernandez: Before the NFL

Aaron Hernandez, once one of the most respected, young NFL players, is now a convicted murderer who stands trial (yet again) next month for a double homicide. Throughout the trial that finally concluded on April 14th, the prosecution had a hard time establishing motive. Why would a young, successful NFL starter kill the victim, Odin Lloyd? Why would Aaron risk his entire life, his career and everything he worked for as a young boy, by allegedly killing Lloyd?

The answer: unchecked, narcissistic behavior that was partly fueled by NFL contracts worth millions of dollars. For Aaron, playing for the New England Patriots, less than three hours from his hometown in Connecticut, proved fatal in the end.

Aaron grew up in a middle class town in Bristol, Connecticut, where his dad was known throughout high school for his athleticism. After meeting Aaron’s mom, an Italian woman who worked in the city, the couple produced two athletic sons whose talents would surpass most expectations. Aaron’s father, originally from Puerto Rico, wanted his boys to fit in well with the middle-class community. Having a dream that one day his boys would make it in the NFL, Aaron, his father, and his brother practiced and worked out before school every morning and after the school day ended every evening. Aaron and his brother were so disciplined that they performed burpee’s (an intensive exercise) early in the mornings on weekends in order to improve their strength.  

In school, Aaron played football and was known to be the class clown on campus, always wanting to make his fellow peers laugh. He had a winning, baby-face smile that reflected both his sense of humor and desire to play football.

However, when he was sixteen, he would never be the same Aaron Hernandez again. Aaron’s mother and father experienced marital problems, as his mom began having an affair with Aaron's cousin's husband. And when his dad went to the hospital for a routine treatment, the healthy 49 year old was pronounced dead two days later, caused by a medical error.

Aaron was never the same. His mom married the man with whom she had an affair and who turned out to be a drug dealer and abusive to Aaron's mom. Aaron’s brother had left for college, leaving Aaron to spend more and more time with his father’s side of the family. His uncles and cousins did not live in the sheltered, middle class community Aaron did. Much of the family and close friends were drug dealers, who never had or held a job and used illicit substances regularly.

Aaron was finally able to leave the “hood” behind when he was accepted to the University of Florida to play on the University’s team. But he never completely left the "hood" behind. It was too late. Despite the positive change into a more conservative, religious state, Aaron was committed to his “ghetto lifestyle” that had been swept under the rug for so long because of his talent on the field.

One of his coaches at the University of Florida realized Aaron’s talent and wasteful habits. In an attempt to mentor Aaron and encourage him to be religious, his coach allowed Aaron to stay with him several days a week. Despite his efforts, Aaron failed multiple drug tests and was benched for several games. Aaron’s violence escalated, as his old, drug dealing friends from Connecticut visited him often. Aaron would not give up his narcissistic behavior, which led to a civil claim filed against the University of Florida when Aaron punched a waiter in the face, breaking the waiter's eardrum.

When being considered by the NFL, Aaron was consistently ranked exceedingly highly for his athleticism and talent as a tight end, but failed miserably for his lack of maturity. Aaron promised that if he failed another drug test, that the NFL could keep a portion of his paycheck. However, his promises proved empty. Aaron became completely divorced from reality due to his use of “Angel Dust,” a hallucinogen causing him to become extremely paranoid. The paranoia continued to escalate so much so that he refused to leave his home without a gun. He rarely spoke with his teammates, who saw Aaron as a loner rather than a team player. Aaron failed to show up for practices, even receiving calls from the Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, who questioned Aaron about his behavior. Aaron believed he was invincible because of his drug use, money and drug dealing friends who constantly mooched off of him.

And that’s when Aaron met Odin Lloyd. Lloyd was Aaron’s fiancĂ©e’s sister’s boyfriend. Three weeks before Lloyd's murder, Lloyd's cousin met Lloyd and Aaron at a night club, where Aaron spent thousands of dollars. The night involved a lot of drugs, models, dancers, and drinking. Lloyd's cousin warned Lloyd about Aaron, telling him not to trust him. Hearing the exchange, Aaron became enraged, and never let that night go. The night of Lloyd's murder, Lloyd knew something was wrong with Aaron because Aaron texted his sister frantically, telling her that he left with “NFL…” in case anything would happen. And that night, Lloyd was taken to a roadside and was shot fatally, six times, before being left there.

Aaron returned to his home with his two friends (who subsequently ratted him out during the trial) and had smoothies that his fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins made.

It was not long after Lloyd's murder that law enforcement located the body and traced the murder back to Aaron Hernandez.

Part II of the blog will discuss the trial.

1 comment: