After Aaron Hernandez passed in 2017, autopsies have revealed that he suffered from stage III of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease common in athletes or anyone who has a history of repetitive brain trauma. The post-mortem autopsy revealed stage III CTE, a disease usually seen in former players with an average age of 67 years old, yet Hernandez was only 27 at the time of his demise.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 99% of NFL stars who suffered multiple brain injuries during their careers showed signs of CTE. The study also found a correlation between CTE and significant behavioral or emotional malfunctions, often present throughout the lifetime of the person diagnosed with CTE.
The Hernandez family filed a lawsuit against the NFL and New England Patriots alleging the NFL was "fully aware of the damage that could be inflicted from repetitive impact injuries and failed to disclose, treat or protect him from the dangers of such damage." And though Hernandez is responsible for taking Odin Lloyd's life in 2015, perhaps they both could have been protected had Hernandez's disorder been properly treated.
Hernandez Was Convicted Of Homicide In 2015
On April 15, 2015, Hernandez was convicted of the murder of Odin Lloyd. A first-degree murder conviction in Massachusetts carries an automatic penalty of life without parole. Additionally, Hernandez was convicted on several weapons charges. Shortly after his conviction, Hernandez received a transfer from a Massachusetts intake facility to the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, a high-security prison. The once promising NFL star's career came to a halting stop, and instead of playing for millions of fans, Hernandez would serve the remainder of his life incarcerated.
He Was Found Deceased In His Cell In 2017
On April 19, 2017, at approximately 3:00 AM, correctional staff found Aaron Hernandez unresponsive in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center. Hernandez was hanging by a bed sheet with the words "John 3:16" on his head. The passage from the Bible reads, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life." The Bible verse is apparently a familiar passage used by inmates.
His Fiancée And Daughter Survive Him
There were handwritten notes left behind for Hernandez's four-year-old daughter, Avielle, and fiance, Shayanna, in his prison cell. Shayanna mentioned that Avielle had no real functional understanding of her father's incarceration. She would visit her father regularly and thought he was at work. Shayanna wanted to keep her daughter in a positive mind frame and planned to give her details when she was old enough to understand.
His Autopsy Revealed Significant Concussion Induced CTE
The Hernandez family filed a lawsuit against the New England Patriots and NFL. After learning about the results of the autopsy, researchers said that Hernandez had stage III of CTE. They are accusing the NFL and Patriots of hiding essential facts about the dangers of football.
The side effects of CTE, as mentioned by the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, can cause depression, mood swings, and other cognitive disorders. The NFL and Patriots should perform yearly screens on their athletes to detect signs of repeated head injuries.