Former star player with this year’s Super Bowl-winning American Football team has killed himself in prison, where he was serving a life sentence for murder.
Aaron Hernandez, 27, was found dead in the early hours of Wednesday morning, having hanged himself in his cell. He had wedged the door shut to try and prevent guards entering.
His death was all the more poignant given that it came on the same day his former New England Patriots team mates were at the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl win.
The family were quick to question the prison's version of events, however, and his former agent, Brian Murphy, said he did not believe the sportsman had committed suicide.
"Absolutely no chance he took his own life," he tweeted. "Chico was not a saint, but my family and I loved him and he would never take his own life."
Hernandez’s lawyer, Jose Baez, released a statement on Wednesday morning, demanding an investigation.
“We are shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron’s death,” he said.
“There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated this scenario (suicide) was a possibility.
"Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence.
"Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death.”
Hernandez played with the team from 2010 to 2013, one of the youngest ever players drafted into the NFL. He was a rising star: in 2012 he signed a seven-year, $40 million (£31.1m) contract extension which included a $12.5 million bonus - the highest ever for a sportsman who played his position.
But he was troubled from the start.
Born in Connecticut, his father died when he was 16 – something his mother said sparked problems with authority.
Hernandez initially studied at the state’s university before moving to the University of Florida, where he played with the Florida Gators.
He was swiftly in trouble – involved in a bar brawl in 2007, which was settled out of court, and caught up in the shooting of a group of men driving away from a nightclub in their car. Hernandez was never charged.
In 2012 he was investigated for the murders of two men, shot in their car in Boston.
The following year his friend Alexander Bradley filed a lawsuit alleging that Hernandez had shot him after a row at a strip club: again, the case never proceeded.
But five days later, in June 2013, a semi-professional American Football player, Odin Lloyd, who was in a relationship with the sister of Hernandez's fiancée, was found dead. Police said Hernandez orchestrated Lloyd's execution because he was upset Lloyd had spoken to people that he didn't like. His body was found dumped in an industrial park about a half-mile from Hernandez's home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.
Charged with Lloyd’s murder, Hernandez was immediately dropped by the Patriots.
In 2014 he was found guilty of the double murder in Boston. Prosecutors alleged he killed two men at a red light after one of them spilled a drink on him at a club.
And on April 15, 2015, he was found guilty of first-degree murder in the Lloyd case, and sentenced to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole at a Massachusetts prison - the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center.
Hernandez was appealing the sentence for Lloyd’s murder, and last Friday was acquitted of the Boston murders.
Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, his fiancee, brought the couple’s four-year-old daughter to the courtroom and the two exchanges waves. For a brief moment, he smiled broadly and his face lit up.
Last week, Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, was asked in a word-association interview to describe Hernandez. He chose the word “tragic”.
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