Aaron Hernandez died by suicide in 2017 while serving a life sentence for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of his fiancee. Three years later, some of his former teammates from the University of Florida are still struggling with his death. They think about him often, as well as his time in college and some of the incidents in which he was involved.
Speaking with PEOPLE, an unnamed player from the Florida Gators opened up about his time with Hernandez in college. He spoke about his seemingly unlimited potential on the football field. This player also mentioned a violent streak that led to incidents off the field. This former teammate didn't condone his actions that led to the life sentence, but he does struggle with what led to this point in his life.
"I think of Aaron almost every day at some point," the former teammate told PEOPLE. "He crosses my mind all the time, and I talk about him with other guys from the team. We just can't figure out what happened. We just can't wrap our minds around his downfall."
Hernandez was arrested in 2013 for the murder of Lloyd. He was later charged with the murder of two men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012. However, he was acquitted of that crime but still had to serve a life sentence for the murder of Lloyd. Days later, he was found dead after hanging himself with a sheet.
Prior to joining the New England Patriots as a fourth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Hernandez was a key member of the National Championship-winning Florida Gators. Despite finding considerable success on the football field, he was also involved in violent incidents during his first year in college. This includes a drive-by shooting in which he fit the description of the man who fired five shots into a car, wounding both passengers. Hernandez was also accused of punching a bouncer at a popular Gainesville establishment.
"Everything about Aaron was a struggle," the unnamed teammate continued. "He had these really angry outbursts a lot, over insignificant things. And when he started, he couldn't stop." The teammate also said that Hernandez struggled with his sexuality, openly dating several women and "finding guys on the down-low."
With Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez drawing considerable attention on Netflix, there are multitudes of viewers learning about the former football player's life, crime, and ultimate death. Some are fascinated by this story while others are simply saddened. His former teammates, however, are remembering the man that they loved suiting up with on a weekly basis.0comments
"I look at the things Aaron did and they make me sad," the teammate said. "He did a lot of things that should not be celebrated in any way. But he was a man who many people loved, and on that level, he should be remembered. Everyone can learn from his mistakes; that's the way to make sure that his life wasn't in vain."
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.