This story first appeared on RollingStone.com.
Former Patriots tight end might have been one of the NFL’s all-time greats, but he could never escape drugs, guns, and a life of violence
In a statement from the Department of Corrections, the former football star was found hanging from a bedsheet in his cell in the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, at approximately 3:05 a.m.
“Mr. Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population unit,” the statement said. “Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window. Mr. Hernandez also attempted to block his door from the inside by jamming the door with various items.”
Hernandez, who was serving life in prison for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, had been acquitted in another double-murder trial less than a week before his death.
Hernandez, a former standout for Urban Meyer at the University of Florida, was selected by the New England Patriots in the 113th overall in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He’d start later that year as the youngest player on any NFL roster and quickly make his presence felt. In 2012, he signed an extension with New England worth $40 million. At the time, it was the second richest extension ever given to a tight end in league history, a sign that the team realized they had a great talent on their hands.
But it wouldn’t last. A year later, after his initial arrest for the murder of Lloyd, the team released him. From there, details started to come to the surface of a dark past filled with violence and drugs, stemming from his days in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut, that Hernandez couldn’t leave behind.
In an e-mail to the Boston Globe, New England Patriots spokesman Stacey James wrote that the team was aware of the death of their former player, “but I don’t anticipate that we will be commenting today,” he wrote.
Massachusetts State Police are currently investigating Hernandez’s death.