Aaron Hernandez was found dead in a Massachusetts prison cell Wednesday morning, ending a stunning spiral for a former NFL star who five years ago signed a $41 million contract with the New England Patriots — and then was accused of three murders.
April 24, 2010: Hernandez, a standout tight end on the 2008 University of Florida’s national championship team, is drafted by the New England Patriots. Off-field problems hurt Hernandez’s draft stock, and the college all-American with first-round talent falls to the fourth round. “It was a long draft,” Hernandez admits, “but I was just happy regardless of where I got picked because it’s a dream come true. I didn’t care whether I went in the first round or the seventh round; as long as I got picked I was going to be happy because there are millions of people out there who would love to be in my shoes.”
Feb. 5, 2012: Playing in Super Bowl XLVI, Hernandez leads the Patriots with eight receptions for 67 yards and a third-quarter touchdown. New England loses, 21-17, to the New York Giants.
July 16, 2012: An SUV pulls up to a BMW on an overpass in South Boston and someone sprays a volley of bullets into the sedan, according to the Boston Globe. The driver and front-seat passenger — Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado — die at the scene of the drive-by shooting.
Aug. 27, 2012: Hernandez signs a $41 million contract with the Patriots — and immediately donates $50,000 to a Patriots’ charity. Team owner Robert Kraft calls the donation “one of the touching moments since I’ve owned the team.”
June 17, 2013: The body of Odin Lloyd, a semipro football player and landscaper with personal ties to Hernandez, is found in an industrial park near Hernandez’s home south of Boston.
June 26 2013: Hernandez is charged with first degree murder in Lloyd’s killing. The Patriots cut him less than two hours after authorities take him into custody. “Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation,” a team statement says. “At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”
July 2, 2013: Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told The Washington Post’s Kent Babb about the former football star’s life as he awaited trial as inmate No. 174954. Hernandez wore a dark green prison uniform and was isolated from other prisoners.
Babb wrote: “His home, at least for the foreseeable future, is a 10-foot-by-7-foot cell adorned only with a bunk bed frame, a stainless steel sink-toilet combination, and a metal desk with an attached stool.”
Hernandez was later moved to Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, the Daily Mail reported in 2015. He was being held separately from other prisoners and was on suicide watch.
July 15, 2013: Hernandez’s teammate, Tom Brady, told CBS Sports that the Patriots were trying to move forward.
“I think everyone had a certain range of emotions (when they heard the news about Hernandez), and those were really personal, and I’ve dealt with them,” Brady said. “Certainly, it’s a very tragic thing that happened and someone loses their life. But all of those things were out of the players’ control here. We’re not really apart of that situation so I don’t think it does a lot for us to get involved here.”
Aug. 22, 2013: A grand jury indicts Hernandez for the alleged murder of Lloyd.
May 15, 2014: A grand jury indicts Hernandez in the double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.
April 15, 2015: Hernandez is found guilty of killing Lloyd, giving him an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole.
April 13, 2017: “Tragedy,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick says of Hernandez. “Heartbreaking,” CNBC’s Suzy Welch says. “Yes; that would be another word,” Belichick says.
April 14 2017: Hernandez is found not guilty for the killings of de Abreu and Furtado, but remains in prison for killing Lloyd.
3:05 a.m. Wednesday: Hernandez is found hanging from a bedsheet tied to his window at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass. He is pronounced dead an hour later. He was 27.