Aaron Hernandez: Money doesn’t buy freedom

This time last year, Aaron Hernandez was living the good life. He had just signed a lucrative $39.5 million five-year extension with the New England Patriots before training camp. He made $3.1 million during the 2012 football season. He was set to receive a “workout” bonus for $83,000 and a “roster” bonus for $118,000 before the 2013 season.

In November, he and longtime girlfriend Shayanna Jenkins shared the exuberance of having a beautiful daughter. The couple even purchased a four-story, 7,100 square foot mansion in the Boston suburb of North Attleboro

Life couldn’t be any better. Right?

Well, today, a rash of horrific decision-making has Hernandez calling a jail cell the size of a parking lot his home. Instead of taking his family to dine at exquisite restaurants, Hernandez is enjoying the abominable cheese burritos, rice and two slices of bread served at the Bristol County House of Correction.

On June 18, police obtained a search warrant and searched Hernandez’s home for evidence connecting the superstar to the murder of Boston native Odin Lloyd. 

Just a week earlier, on June 13, a friend of Hernandez filed charges against the superstar claiming Hernandez’s shot him in the face outside a strip club in Miami. The victim, a self-described friend of Hernandez, refused to name the assailant at the time of the assault and charges weren’t sought after, until now.

On June 20, the Patriots released a statement stating Hernandez was barred from Gillette Stadium and subsequently the Patriots’ facility. And on June 26, the team released him. That was the day police felt they had enough evidence in the Lloyd murder case to arrest and charge Hernandez. During the early morning hours, Hernandez emerged from his mansion with his hands cuffed behind his back, red basketball shorts and a T-shirt draped over his body signaling he was in bed or shirtless at the time of the arrest. 

When Hernandez was charged and arraigned in court, prosecutors laid out the gruesome details and evidence they had obtained against Hernandez. The NFL star got into an argument with Lloyd on the previous Friday. The prosecutor said authorities have tape of Hernandez, with a firearm, saying, “You can’t trust anyone anymore,” before driving to pick up the victim.

Lloyd’s body was found with five bullet holes less than two miles from Hernandez’s home. 

The prosecutor laid out a detailed timeline on what he thinks happened the night of June 17, and apparent witness statements and surveillance cameras around the Boston area support his case.

According to a report in the Boston Globe, Hernandez is housed in a “Special Management Program” (similar to being in solitary confinement) which is 7 x 10 feet. Hernandez gets only 60 minutes per day to see the outside world and that comes in an 8 x 10 foot “pen” where one can only do pushups, sit-ups, and knee-bends. He has to wake up at 6 a.m. every morning. “He has to make his bed, clean up, and make sure everything is neat,” says Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hogson. “The bed must remain made all day.” There are no televisions, just two books at a time. The lights are turned off at 11 p.m. 

This life is real. And according to evidence, Hernandez might want to become comfortable with taking orders from jailers he has to address as “sir.”

The way in which Hernandez was embarrassed in front of a live national audience as he took that walk of shame with his hands behind his back is just what young people need to see. 

“Young kids particularly get to see what life is like for someone who has celebrity status. This is probably one of the greatest advertisements as to why you don’t ever want to come to jail. He had everything going for him,” Hogson concluded.



David L. Lankster, Sr. is a senior mass  communication major from Compton, Calif.