Three letters written in the hours before Aaron Hernandez’s apparent suicide in 2017 provide a window into the former New England Patriots player’s mental struggles. One of the letters, addressed to the former tight end’s attorney, and offers no indication that Hernandez had plans to kill himself.
A brain scan taken after the 27-year old hanged himself in his cell on April 19, 2017, shows that he suffered severe brain injuries consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative condition that has led to the premature death of many pro football players who experienced repeated head blows during their careers. Doctors who examined Hernandez said his was the most severe case they had seen in someone so young.
The letters, released by the New York Post Monday with the permission of Hernandez’s attorney, Jose Baez, are addressed to his daughter, Avielle Jenkins-Hernandez, now 5, fiancée Shayanna Jenkins, now 29, and Baez himself.
“[Hernandez] wrote three letters the night he died, letters discovered in his cell and released to us by corrections officials a few days after his death,” Baez told the Post.
“Nothing in [it] suggests Aaron was thinking of killing himself,” he noted. “He talks about contacting artists in the future and that if I can’t help him, he’ll figure something out. It’s a sweet letter I’ll always cherish. That was the real Aaron.”
Baez first met his client in 2016, at which point the then-26-year-old was already serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. At the time, Hernandez was facing an additional indictment involving an earlier double homicide.
Baez, who developed a close relationship with the former football player, was deeply troubled by his client’s death, which came only five days after he helped Hernandez win an acquittal, on April 14.
In a new book titled “Unnecessary Roughness: Inside the Trial and Final Days of Aaron Hernandez,” out Tuesday, Baez discusses the final year of Hernandez’s life. The book includes the full text of the three letters Hernandez wrote, along with annotations in which Baez notes unusual words or phrases that indicate a compromised mental state.
Below is the letter addressed to Baez, with the attorney’s own commentary in bold:
What’s up, brotha?
“Aaron often addressed me as his brother. We had a very close relationship. When I met him I sat him down and said , ‘I’m gonna be your lawyer, your priest, all those things.’ It was a big-brother type of relationship. We would talk about life and the object of life. I gave him advice. He was needing [it] at the time.”
Well, I wrote this letter following my acquittal and wanted to voice how I felt and let some people whos[e] music helped me get through hard times, know that it did. Wrong or right — who knows — I just follow my natural instincts and how it guides me. Pros or cons, didn’t weigh them, but I’m sure you’ll let me know your view. Besides that, I want you to know you have me forever like you never understood and time will reveal that I’m not perfect but my love and loyalty is like you’ve never seen! I appreciate all your work, time, effort, and never let that slip your mind! In time, you will see how appreciated you are, as well as all the others equally!
“I believe he means all the other lawyers on the team . . . We gave everything we had to that case, worked all-nighters. He wanted to let us know how much that meant to him.”
But never forget I will whoop your ass if you get too crazy . . . haha! time.
“That’s Aaron. He joked around all the time.”
But we could grab a drink after. All jokes aside, I hope your son is well and all your loved ones!
I need a favor — If you have any contacts for any artists like Gates, Meek Mill, Ross, Jay, Game . . . etc.
Hernandez was referring to hip-hop artists Kevin Gates, Rick Ross and Jay-Z. “Kevin Gates was a client of mine, but the others weren’t. Aaron loved rap and hip-hop, and he used music to get through tough times — and he had a lot of tough times. This shows [that] when he was writing this note that he was upbeat and positive, that he was looking forward to the future. This corresponds with my last conversation with him, hours before he passed.”
I would like to send you letters so you can send to their information or whichever way you think best. I don’t want any media really getting into me, trying to just send my love to all the artists who got me through my tough times and sending my respect to a few of the real ones out there. So I think that’s the best idea through you. It’s something I have to do and I’d appreciate if you could do that for me, if possible! If not, I’ll figure something out. Well, get at me, love ya brother!
“There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible,” Baez told Inside Edition in a statement on April 19, 2017. “Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence.”
He continued, “Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death.”
For additional commentary and Baez’s inside perspective on the final days of Hernandez’s life, you can order his new book here.
(H/T: New York Post)