Aaron Hernandez: Victim of His Upbringing?

Arguably, one of the greatest falls from grace since O.J. Simpson is the story of former NFL champion and New England Patriot, Aaron Hernandez. In a life where he was granted opportunities many kids dream about, his life led him down a path to ruin and, ultimately, his demise. Many people have offered their opinion on Aaron Hernandez and his case. Some have expressed their sadness over the outcome and how much promise he had, while others have no sympathy for him and believe that his story was all his own doing. 

It is an interesting dichotomy to study because of the totality of the situation. Aaron Hernandez had a rough upbringing and because of that, he aligned himself with the wrong people. This is often the case among those who live in poor neighborhoods. The prevalence of poverty is too often a breeding ground for criminality and violence. Sure, there is a large level of responsibility that rested on Aaron Hernandez's shoulders, but if you know of no other way of thinking or functioning, how much of it is within your control? 

A child raised in an environment where thinking is championed and violence is frowned upon will have the mental framework necessary to avoid conflict. The foundation was one of peace and not war. Because of the examples placed before this child, he/she is built differently than a child reared in an environment where dysfunction, violence, drugs and murder rule the day. So there is a choice here, but the lens through which that choice is seen inhibits or promotes the selection of that choice. 

The ending of Aaron Hernandez's life is just as stunning as the allegations and conviction of murder. Here you have a man who was placed in the best collegiate and, eventually, arguably one of the best teams in the NFL (besides the Green Bay Packers, of course), the New England Patriots. They are known for the "Patriot Way", which is the ideology of team over the individual and everyone comes to work to do the best job possible. The moment one man overestimates his importance or is deemed to be a promoter of self, he is removed from the team via trade or release. This is because, above winning, the New England Patriots value keeping their culture and values intact.

On April 19, 2017, news broke that Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in his jail cell. Largely, people were shocked at his death given his recent not guilty verdict in the double murder he was on trial for. Further complicating matters was the fact that his attorney alleged there was exculpatory evidence they would use to prove his innocence in the original murder he was convicted of. By all accounts, he was in good spirits and ready to continue fighting until he was found innocent. But now, he is gone. 

You may draw your own conclusions about the story of Aaron Hernandez but one word mentioned about Aaron Hernandez frequently was, "psychopath". There were stories about his callous treatment of other people and his outbursts for slights that didn't warrant such a response. One instance involved his former teammate Wes Welker, where a simple joke turned into multiple people holding him back from seriously harming his teammate. 

Was Aaron Hernandez a psychopath, murderer or serial killer? Conjecture on this topic will abound for years to come. The only parallel seen between Aaron Hernandez and those psychopaths that pundits attempt to relate him to is the immense confusion surrounding this simple question: where did it all go wrong?

Adam Quirk, MCJ & MBA

Adam Quirk, MCJ & MBA

Adam Quirk, MCJ & MBA, is a criminal justice professional, true crime writer, and world traveler from Wisconsin.