Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell early Wednesday after reportedly hanging himself, according to Massachusetts prison officials. Hernandez had been serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole for a murder conviction stemming from the death of Odin Lloyd in 2013—although he was acquitted of a separate double murder charge just days ago. He was 27 years old.
The former New England Patriots tight end, who is of Puerto Rican descent on his father’s side, was found shortly after 3 a.m. in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts. He was pronounced dead an hour later at the UMass Memorial HealthAlliance Hospital, at 4:07 a.m. Officials say that he died by suicide after hanging himself with a bed sheet tied to the window of his single cell. According to the statement released by the Massaschusetts Department of Corrections, he also attempted to jam his cell door from the inside by inserting “various items.”
Hernandez had been drafted by the Patriots in the 2010 NFL Draft and, along with fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski, took part in one of the best receiving duos in the league. Prior to his arrest in June 2013 for the murder of Lloyd, Hernandez had signed a five-year extension with the team, including the largest ever signing bonus for a tight end at the end.
Speaking to ESPN early on Wednesday, Patriots spokesman Stacey James said that “We are aware of the reports, but I don’t anticipate that we will be commenting today.”
Hernandez leaves behind his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, and their daughter, Avielle, who he blew a kiss to in court on Friday, after his acquittal for the double murder charge.