(WTNH) — Aaron Hernandez was born and raised in Bristol, Connecticut, where much of his family still calls home.
On Wednesday, after learning he had taken his own life, those close to him and the town are now trying to process what happened.
Hernandez played football for Bristol Central High School before he went to the University of Florida. He eventually signed a five year, $40 million contract with the New England Patriots.
WTNH spoke with Hernandez’s cousin via Skype. He says the news of Hernandez’s death inside that Massachusetts prison surprised the family and raised a lot of questions. Hernandez was just acquitted of two murders and was in the process of appealing the murder conviction against him in the death of Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez was found hanged in his cell, but his family said they don’t believe he took his own life. The family says they even spoke with him last night.
“His conversation was nothing but joy, that he was thinking about his future and how he was going to appeal his Odin Lloyd case. And he was in really good spirits so for this to happen, we’re shocked and we still don’t believe that he took his life. We still believe there’s a lot of foul play going on,” Randy Garcia, Hernandez’s cousin said.
The Bristol Mayor says while Hernandez was revered as a student athlete, the turn his life took after graduation overshadows those accomplishments. He hopes the city can move forward with positive role models.