BRISTOL, Conn. (WWLP) – Aaron Hernandez was a star in New England for almost his entire career. Not only did he spend three seasons as a tight end with the New England Patriots, he was also a standout player at Bristol Central High School in Connecticut.
Much of Hernandez’s family still lives in Bristol, and a home on Lake Avenue belonging to his uncle was searched during the investigation into the murder of Odin Lloyd. A woman visibly shaken up and crying, declined to talk with us, but she did confirm that Hernandez did live there.
At a young age, football became a part of his life. Across the street from the blue house, the Casey football field is where the young athlete practiced his craft: a craft that would take him from this field to Gillette Stadium, and even an appearance at the Super Bowl.
Despite his road to success, Hernandez constantly found himself in trouble. In 2015, he was convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Last week, Hernandez was acquitted of murder charges in the deaths of two men that prosecutors said came as the result of a dispute at a Boston nightclub.
Wednesday morning, the former Patriots player was found dead in his cell from an apparent suicide. Emmanuel Barracato of Bristol told 22News that he thinks the whole situation is unfortunate. “I thought it was sad. It was too bad he didn’t have somebody to talk to, or that he didn’t have anybody to reach out. Because I’ve been there myself, and people have helped me out and got me through it,” Barracato said.
Jose Cartagena of Creative Cuts said Hernandez was a frequent customer of the barbershop from his high school football days to playing in the NFL. In his early years, Hernandez would visit the barbershop with his dad and brother.
In 2006, when Hernandez’s dad passed away, he asked his barber to give him a haircut that would honor his father. Cartagena said, “I do remember one of his big games, I gave him a haircut and carved in ‘#1 Dad’ in the back of his head.”
Cartagena said kids idolized Hernandez, and to them, he was a superstar. He said despite Hernandez’s murder conviction, he was a man who was respected by many in the community.
22News did reach out to the Hernandez family. A family friend said that they are too upset to talk at this time.