A lot has been said about former NFL player Aaron Hernandez who committed suicide in his prison cell last year. It’s hard to know for sure what Hernandez was suffering through, especially in the last years of his life. What is known is that he was going through an unimaginable amount of pain. We know this from the diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which was revealed after his death.
CTE is a disease that occurs in the brain when a person is repeatedly hit in the head, which is why NFL players are prone to getting it. Symptoms of CTE include difficulty thinking, impulsive behavior, depression, emotional instability, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and much more.
In an investigative piece in the Boston Globe we are learning more about Hernandez through people that knew him best as well as his former teammates. What is clear is that Hernandez’s CTE diagnosis was very apparent in retrospect, but we’re also learning that his childhood may have also contributed to his destructive behavior as an adult.
In a six-part investigative story about Aaron Hernandez, his brother alleges that they had an abusive father.
The story, which is also a podcast, was written and investigated by the Boston Globes’ Spotlight team. This group of reporters is famously known for their intensive look into particular topics, as they did with the Pulitzer Prize coverage of the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Boston.
Aaron’s brother Jonathan opens about how their father physically abused both of them.
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) October 13, 2018
Jonathan says that he wanted to get help. He wanted to call 911 and report his father, but when he attempted, it only made matters worse.
“I picked up the phone once to call, to seek help,” Jonathan tells the Boston Globe. “And his response was, ‘Call them.’ And he handed me the phone, and he said, ‘I’m going to beat you even harder, you and your brother, and they’re going to have to pull me off of you when they knock down the door.'”
Aaron’s secret boyfriend, Dennis SanSoucie, also shares how he couldn’t disclose his sexual orientation.
Dennis SanSoucie, Aaron Hernandez's secret gay lover from middle school and high school, is speaking out for the first timehttps://t.co/GiZdAe7BwI
— Stonewall Gazette – LGBTQ News (@StonewallGaztte) October 14, 2018
“Me and him were very much into trying to hide what we were doing. We didn’t want people to know,” SanSoucie said in an interview.
SanSoucie says that he didn’t come out to his family until after Aaron had died. He also added that Aaron had told him that he was sexually abused when he was a young boy. According to the article, Aaron’s home life would never allow for him to come out as gay. His brother says that gay slurs were used by his father constantly and even though Aaron displayed gay tendencies he never dared tell his father the truth.
Aaron’s erratic behavior — a symptom of CTE — was very much part of his athletic life, both on the field and off.
"When Dr. Anne McKee autopsied Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez…she found the most severe case of CTE ever in someone under 30. Now, she's seeing a similar pattern in deceased veterans who experienced a different kind of head trauma — combat blasts." pic.twitter.com/0b1WpvkLQU
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 5, 2018
“There would be swings where he’d be the most hyper-masculine, aggressive individual in the room, where he’d be ready to fight somebody in fits of rage,” former Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd tells the Boston Globe. “Or he’d be the most sensitive person in the room, talking about cuddling with his mother. Or he’d ask me, ‘Do you think I’m good enough to play?'”
Needless to say, his behavior didn’t go over well with the players especially their captain Tom Brady.
— FGTNews (@OfficialFGTNews) October 16, 2018
“I’m trying to watch over Aaron and Brandon,” Brady said to Tebow. Brady was referring to another former Florida player, Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes, according to the Boston Globe.
“I appreciate that, man. They’re good guys,” Tebow responded. “Yeah,” Brady said. “But they’re a lot to handle.”
Click here to read the first part of the series from the Boston Globe.