Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Why?
It's a simple question, but an answer isn't always as straightforward.
To those of us on the outside looking in at Aaron Hernandez, he had it all.
A 23-year-old star who lived in a luxurious home with his fiance and baby,
Hernandez was a popular player who signed a monstrous $41 million extension in
August of last year with one of the NFL's marquee teams, the New
It was all vindication for the troubled kid from Bristol, Conn., the same guy
who was vilified for his persistent marijuana use at the University of
Florida, along with the inability to control a prodigious temper.
Hernandez finally had the respect and reputation he was looking for.
Or did he?
TMZ.com recently published a photo of a 17-year-old Hernandez flashing gang
signs often associated with the Bristol Bloods street gang in Connecticut, all
while dressed head-to-toe in red clothing. It was seemingly confirmation of
Aaron's long-rumored affiliation with the group.
Most of us assume everyone has the same kind of dreams -- to be financially
secure with a loving family and friends. To young men caught up in a gang
culture, however, the thought process is far darker.
Yeah, respect and reputation are still sought but not from conventional
sources like a significant other or an offspring. It's all about impressing
your real "family," the other members of the gang. And if you don't get the
aforementioned respect or garner the rep you "deserve," a third "R" comes into
play -- retaliation.
According to Esperanza, a Philadelphia-based activist network designed to
strengthen the Hispanic community, defending the reputation and respect of a
gang is the logical and expected behavior for all members.
"It becomes a primary function of gang membership," the group wrote in its
publication, Gangs 101. "Any disrespect or challenge towards the gang or one
of its members, whether perceived or real, will force an action. The challenge
must be answered in order to maintain the respect and reputation of the gang.
The response or action is usually violent and criminal and it serves as an
opportunity to increase a member's individual status or to regain the gang's
respect and reputation."
Massachusetts authorities, of course, are accusing Hernandez of orchestrating
the murder of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old Boston man whose body was found in a
North Attleborough, Mass., industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez's
home on June 17.
Bristol County assistant district attorney William McCauley believes the plot
to kill Lloyd began on June 14, when Lloyd and Hernandez went to a Boston
nightclub and Hernandez saw Lloyd talking to people Hernandez "had troubles
Two days later, Hernandez allegedly summoned two men from Bristol, Conn., to
help him kill the "disrespectful" Lloyd. One of them, 27-year-old Carlos Ortiz,
was taken into custody in Connecticut on Wednesday after Massachusetts
officials issued an arrest warrant. Ortiz is currently being held in The Nutmeg
State on $1.5 million bail for probation violation and as a fugitive from
During Hernandez's arraignment on Wednesday, prosecutors claimed they have
video surveillance from several sources showing Lloyd getting into a silver
Nissan with Hernandez and two other men in Dorchester, Mass., before arriving
at the industrial park shortly before the murder.
During the alleged ride to his eventual execution, Lloyd seemed to understand
he was in trouble, texting his sister moments before he was shot five times,
"Did you see who I am with?" Lloyd wrote shortly after 3 a.m., before
answering himself with two chilling messages right before being killed: "NFL."
and "Just so you know."
Night workers at the industrial park heard gunshots between 3:23 and 3:27 a.m.
and a few minutes later, surveillance video at Hernandez's home showed him
walking through the house with a pistol in his hand,
The Patriots cut Hernandez less than two hours after he was taken into custody
on Wednesday and now the former Pro Bowl tight end is looking at life in
prison without parole.
To most of us, this is a tragedy on the level of Macbeth or Othello.
But to the guy who was always more concerned about earning the respect of his
"friends" from Bristol, it's possible football was just his job and his
athleticism enabled the money to come far too easily to appreciate.
In other words, the things we think are important meant nothing to Aaron
The real story here is Hernandez's inability to leave a dysfunctional group
behind despite having the means, opportunity and obligation to do so.
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