Aaron Hernandez – charitable or not?

Published On June 20, 2013 | By Alice Cook

A man is dead and a Patriots player is being investigated. Tight end Aaron Hernandez has become part of the police probe into the homicide of Odin Lloyd. We know that Lloyd was acquaintance of Hernandez, and that his body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez’s home in North Attleboro. We also know through  his lawyers that there will be no comment form Hernandez until the investigation has come to a conclusion.

When the news broke on Wednesday, I listened and read the reports throughout the day. I saw the photograph of Hernandez taking a pull from his water bottle as he returned home from wearing a red cap and a sweatshirt. I noticed the beautiful, huge home he lived in, with the perfectly manicured lawn, and a garage big enough for a fleet of luxury cars.

Why would he ever be involved in something like this? The guy has everything!

Last August, Hernandez signed a contract extension that is for five years, included a 12.5 million dollar signing bonus and a maximum value of $40 million in additional money.

Speaking at the Patriot’s annual Charitable Foundation Kickoff Gala a few days later, Hernandez had this to say.

“I knew it was coming. When Gronk got it, I knew there was a good chance I was next in line,” Hernandez told ESPN. “Now that it’s happened, it’s definitely a blessing. I am excited to go on with my life.”

After he agreed to the extension, Hernandez presented owner Robert Kraft with a check for $50,000 to go to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund. Kraft told him he didn’t have to do. According to Kraft, a teary eyed Hernandez said, “No, it makes me feel good and I want to do it.”

Does this sound like the kind of person that would be involved in someone’s murder?

After I read this story about Hernandez’s generosity, I was curious about his background. As I probed more into his personal life story, I learned that Hernandez lost his father at the age of 17. His father was 49 and died from complications after hernia surgery.

Aaron’s brother D.J., then 20, became his father figure. They once played on the same high school team at Bristol Central High School in Connecticut. It was Aaron who broke all the records, while D.J. remained his role model.

“I just tried to follow his work ethic, because he did everything the right way, Hernandez told  the Providence Journal. “I probably could have followed his footsteps a little better than I sometimes did,” he said. But without my brother I would not be here today.”

D.J. Hernandez said his message to his little brother was to “keep working hard and make the most of your opportunities.”

In the light of what we know so far, has Aaron Hernandez done that?

He certainly has performed on the field, and until the criminal justice system can prove it, Hernandez has done nothing wrong. There is no crime in hanging out with the wrong people- it’s just an especially bad idea if you are a professional athlete and making millions of dollars.

Terri Hernandez is the mother of the Patriots tight end. She has worked as a secretary at an elementary school in Bristol since 1994. Her son is the school’s most celebrated alumnus.

In 2012, the school held a pep rally for the Patriots and their ‘favorite son’ who were on their way to play the Giants in the Super Bowl.

Terri was there with all the kids and staff wearing her “Super Bowl Mom” T-shirt.

Aaron, of course, was in already in Indianapolis, but called in on speaker phone to thank the school for their support.

Terry Hernandez said that day that her son has a “big, big heart.”   When asked about Aaron becoming a role model, she said, “that’s how we brought them up, to do well in life.”

Terry Hernandez did her job and so did D.J.   Now it’s up to the police and the investigators to do the same.




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About The Author

is a veteran television sports reporter and Olympian. Her experience includes 25 years of sports reporting for WBZ-TV, the CBS and former NBC affiliate in Boston. Cook has worked for ESPN, Turner Sports, and WTBS. Cook is a feature writer for She's Game Sports and Boston.com. She is also President and Founder of She's Game Sports LLC.