1. “The girls were off the chain. We smoked that super-duper and Aaron dropped 10 G’s like it was nothing.”
These are the words of Odin Lloyd, the man Hernandez allegedly murdered. Rolling Stone spoke to friends who said they were hanging out often and friendly. “We kept rolling past dawn at his big-ass mansion, then he tossed me the keys to his Suburban.”
2. He was using angel dust and carried a gun on him at all times.
“Hernandez was using the maniacal drug angel dust, had fallen in with a crew of gangsters and convinced himself that his life was in danger, carrying a gun wherever he went.”
3. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick told him he was one misstep away from being cut, even before everything hit the fan.
“Hernandez had missed workouts and sessions with a rehab trainer, and had been told by his head coach, Bill Belichick, that he was one misstep from being cut.”
4. “I don’t like that n****r, he’s one of them funny people.”
Lloyd was hanging out with Hernandez when he went to go say hello to two of his cousins.
“He went to hug them up and buy them drinks when one of them, a West Indian with dreads, started pointing and mean-mugging Hernandez. “I don’t like that n****r, he’s one of them funny people,” said the cousin. “Stop pointing, that’s my boy,” said Lloyd of Hernandez. “You’re gonna start some shit ’tween me and him.” “Well, I don’t want you with him, he’s a punk,” said Lloyd’s cousin, jabbing his finger again in Hernandez’s direction. When Lloyd went back upstairs, Hernandez was enraged.”
5. Hernandez brought two goons with him when he picked up Lloyd. The victim knew what was coming and went down fighting.
“He seemed to know what was coming, but decided to make a stand: The driver’s side mirror of the Nissan was broken off, a sign that he might have gone down swinging. On a sand-and-gravel patch, Lloyd raised his arms in defense of the first shot, and was then hit in the back twice as he turned away and fell to the ground. The gunman pumped two more rounds into his chest for good measure.”
6. He’s been linked to the shootings of six people in four incidents since 2007.
“Since 2007, he’s been charged with, or linked to, the shootings of six people in four incidents. Three of the victims were gruesomely murdered. One survivor, a former friend named Alexander Bradley, has had multiple operations and lost his right eye. The other two survivors were shot in their car outside a Gainesville, Florida, bar after an altercation involving Hernandez and two of his teammates his freshman year at the University of Florida. While in Gainesville, he sucker-punched a guy and shattered the fellow’s eardrum, and reportedly failed multiple drug tests, though he was suspended only once for those offenses.”
7. His father had trouble with the law but was scared straight by fatherhood. He worked hard to keep Aaron and his brother out of trouble.
“Each surpassed his father, both on the field and off, in part because Dennis took elaborate pains to keep them on the straight and narrow. Dennis built a gym in the family basement, paved a chunk of the backyard over for a half-court and staged three-on-three tourneys there, and peppered the boys with can-do slogans, burning them in through repetition. “Some do, some don’t,” he was always telling them. “If it is to be, it is up to me,” went another. He was bent on getting his sons to do everything right, whether it was making the proper blitz read or handing homework in on time, perhaps because he’d squandered his own chance.”
8. His father went to the hospital for hernia surgery, got an infection and died two days later. More than 1,500 mourners came to the funeral. Aaron sat stone-faced and silent.
“DJ was inconsolable, sobbing over the casket, but Aaron, 16 and shocked beyond tears, sat stone-faced. Friends tried to console him or draw him out; instead, he locked down, going mum. “He’d open up the tiniest bit, then say nothing for weeks, like it was a sign of weakness to be sad,” says Beam. “His brother was at college, and the only other person he would really talk to was the one who was taken away.”
9. He fell in with a bad crowd after his father died.
“Along with fringe hustlers like Carlos Ortiz, the angel-dust tweaker, they filled the heart-size hole Dennis left, bolstering Aaron with bromides about family love and vowing that they’d always have his back – which is another way of saying they sunk their claws in. Their motives couldn’t have been plainer if they’d hung them in neon: Here was a kid with can’t-miss skills, a malleable man-child who’d be rich one day and fly them out of the hood in his G-5. All they had to do was get him high and gas his head, inflame his sense of grievance at life’s unfairness.”
10. He went to the University of Florida, where head coach Urban Meyer tried to save him from the path he was on.
“Meyer had a rep for reforming players who’d had trouble elsewhere with the law. And he tried, God knows, to convert Hernandez; did everything short of an exorcism. “But there’s only so much you can do in three years,” says John Hevesy, Hernandez’s position coach with the Gators.”
11. Hernandez believed he was untouchable because he never faced consequences for punching someone out at a bar or for being involved in a shooting in college.
“He was out with the Pounceys and [ex-Gator safety] Reggie Nelson, and some guys tried to snatch a chain off one of the Pounceys,” says a local reporter. “The guys drive off, then stop at a light, and someone gets out of a car and shoots into their car through the passenger window. One victim described the shooter as possibly Hispanic or Hawaiian, with lots of tattoos on his arms.” The Pounceys were questioned as witnesses to the crime, but Hernandez invoked his right to counsel and never gave a statement, most odd since he was also called as a witness. No charges have ever been filed, and the case is still open. Again, he walked away unscathed: He wasn’t even named in the police report. In hindsight, it might have been the worst thing for him. He seems to have concluded, with an abundance of probable cause, that he was untouchable.
12. Everything snowballed when Hernandez was given a $40 million deal.
“In an alleged letter to a supporter from jail, he acknowledged that he “fell off especially after making all that money,” though added, with the diplomacy of a preschool kid, that “all the people who turned on me will feel like crap” when they hear “not guilty.”
13. “Trooper, I’m Aaron Hernandez – it’s OK.”
“He and a friend named Alexander Bradley were pulled over by a state trooper on Boston’s Southeast Expressway, going 105 mph. Bradley, who was behind the wheel, was charged with driving under the influence and speeding, but once again Hernandez (who stuck his head out the window and said, “Trooper, I’m Aaron Hernandez – it’s OK”) walked away with no summons or team-imposed fine. Weeks later, driving from a strip club in Miami, he allegedly shot Bradley in the face, then dumped him, badly hurt and bleeding but alive, in an alley north of the city.”
14. He told Belichick that the gangsters he befriended were trying to kill him, but some believe the angel dust he was on is what changed everything.
“Don’t matter what it’s about: Aaron’s out of his mind,” says one friend of the family. “He’s been twisted on dust now for more than a year, which is when all of this crazy shit started.”
15. He might still get off — but he may need to testify.
“Hernandez may have to take the stand and provide an explanation, says Gerry Leone, the former district attorney of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, who convicted Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, among other high-profile cases. “You put him on if your defense case hinges on something that can only come from him” – for instance, the claim that he always carried a gun when leaving the house, protection from the gangsters who wanted him dead, and that it was Ortiz, not Hernandez, who pulled the trigger after a botched attempt to scare Lloyd. “If he says he was shocked by the shooting and only agreed to scare him, that might get him off,” says renowned Boston attorney Anthony Cardinale, who repped John Gotti and other mobsters and has taught at Harvard Law School. “It’s not a crime to be there if you had no reason to expect that someone would be shot.”