Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star imprisoned for homicide, died in an apparent suicide, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections said.
Hernandez, 27, was serving a life sentence for murder when corrections officers discovered his body early Wednesday.
Born in Bristol, Connecticut, Hernandez left college at the University of Florida to join the 2010 NFL Draft, where he was picked up by the New England Patriots. He spent three seasons with them, where he broke several NFL records. During that time, he became engaged to Shayanna Jenkins, who gave birth to their daughter, Avielle, in November 2012. Though the couple never married, Jenkins later took Hernandez’ last name.
In June 2013, Hernandez was arrested and charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd. Lloyd, a semi-professional football player, was dating Jenkins’ sister when he was shot and killed in a Massachusetts industrial park. Days after his arrest, the Patriots released Hernandez.
In 2014, Hernandez was also charged in connection with a 2012 Boston double murder. He was was found guilty of Lloyd’s murder in 2015 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Last week, he was acquitted of the 2012 murders, but was convicted on an illegal weapons charge and given more prison time.
The Patriots were scheduled to make an appearance at the White House on Wednesday, two months after winning the Super Bowl in a historic comeback. The team did not immediately comment on Hernandez’s death.
In a statement released by his attorney, Hernandez’s family members said they were “shocked” and “heartbroken.”
UPDATE: April 20 ― District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said Hernandez’s death has officially been ruled a suicide, noting that three handwritten notes were found next to a Bible in his jail cell.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.