Rob Gronkowski is opening up for the first time about Aaron Hernandez's murder charge. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end and his girlfriend, model and actress Camille Kostek, appeared on the podcast 10 Questions with Kyle Brandt, and he shared his thoughts on Hernandez, who died in 2017.
"Aaron was a great player. He was a great football player," Gronkowski said, as reported by Us Weekly. "But, I mean, I get questions … all the time about him and everything. And with everything going on, I was definitely shook when I heard that, when I heard everything about it." Gronkowski and Hernandez were teammates when they both played for the New England Patriots. In fact, the Patriots drafted both players in 2010 as Gronkowski was selected in the second round while Hernandez was selected in the fourth.
"Being his teammate and everything and you just, you really don't see that. You're not really looking into players like that's who they are or that's what they're doing," Gronkowski recalled. "But just overall, I just try to keep it simple and light. He was a great football player, but that does not mean anything. But you learn from other people too."
Gronkowski and Hernandez played together until 2012. The Patriots released Hernandez in 2013 after he was charged with first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd, who was dating Hernandez's fiancee Shayanna Jenkins' sister Shaneah Jenkins. Hernandez was found guilty in 2015 and began serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole. In 2017, Hernandez was found hanging by his bedsheets from the window in his prison cell. The death was ruled a suicide.
In January 2020, Netflix released a documentary about Hernandez's life and his criminal history. His brother, Jonathan, told PEOPLE at the time that the former NFL tight end went through a lot when he was younger.
"He had a lot of things happen, both good and bad," Jonathan said. "People think they know about my brother, but they really don't. They know what they saw in the news, but they don't know all the struggles he faced." Before being drafted by the Patriots, Hernandez played college football a Florida where he was named an All-American and helped the team win a national championship in 2009.
If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.