The Tragedy of Aaron Hernandez

I don’t feel compelled to write about Aaron Hernandez because I feel obligated to. I don’t want to write about his suicide that occurred this morning. I don’t have the desire to debate whether him killing himself was right or wrong.

I want to write about the tragedy that was his life that could’ve turned out so differently.

I believe that everyone is a child of a just, loving God. But I also believe that people are product of the choices they make when thing are not easy. It’s one thing to be a good person and make good choices when life is easy, but it’s another to be a good person when life gives you more than you can handle. It’s another thing entirely to make horrific choices when life is easy.

It’s almost forgivable when people make bad choices when things are hard – you steal food to feed your family because, after paying the bills, working three jobs still isn’t enough. Your kids can’t go to college because they have to drop out of high school to get a full-time job to help pay rent. It makes more sense to make easy money on the streets to make ends meet when you feel as though you have no other choices.

Aaron Hernandez had other choices.

Aaron Hernandez was a thug when he didn’t need to be. He was a wannabe gangster when he had no reason to be. Hernandez had enough to talent to make him one of the better tight ends in football. Hernandez was so good, in fact, that he earned a $40 million contract with the New England Patriots. He didn’t need to run around with bad dudes. He didn’t need to make poor choices throughout college and the pros. Yes, he grew up in a bad environment. Yes, he had a rough start in life. But he could have made better choices.

Make no mistake, he should be commended for making it out of the streets and making something of himself. But how could he have been so stupid? When he made it to Florida in college, he was gifted a QB named Tim Tebow. He had a fast-track to the NFL. Yet he still had gang affiliations in college and was a rabble rouser. In the NFL, he was gifted a QB named Tom Brady. Yet he still made the choices to mess everything up.

What gets lost in all of this is the fact that an innocent man died at the hands of Aaron Hernandez. When Aaron Hernandez made the choice to murder Odin Lloyd in cold blood, he vacated any good will he had stored up. When he killed Odin Lloyd in a cold blood, he became a coward. In fact, two other men besides Odin Lloyd could have been killed in cold blood by Hernandez.

Aaron Hernandez demonstrated time and again that he was not a good person, and he constantly demonstrated that he couldn’t make good decisions under the easiest of circumstances. I don’t think Hernandez is a victim of anything other than his own hubris. That’s what makes his story all the more tragic.

But perhaps most tragic of all, he left behind a four year old girl who is in for one hell of ride. This little girl got denied a father the moment Hernandez pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Odin Lloyd. She got denied any potential relationship with her father the moment he slipped a homemade noose around his neck. This little will grow up without knowing her father as anything other than a monster. She might not remember him blowing kisses to her in the courtroom. She might not believe the nice stories her mother will tell her about him. Anytime this little girl comes up in conversation, every person will have her father’s crimes in the back of their mind. This little girl joins a legion of children who’s fathers killed innocent human beings – one of the worst clubs a person could be a part of, only to be made worse because her father’s killings were so publicized. Thankfully, it seems like this girl will be raised by people who will love her, care for her, and remind her everyday that she is not her father or his crimes. She will be raised to make choices that don’t lead to that moment of desperation when a gun sits heavy in her hand.

Hernandez left behind a family who loved him. He left behind a fiancee who was standing by his side through all of this. But he did not leave them behind when he took his own life – he left them behind when he put six bullets in the body of Odin Lloyd. Aaron Hernandez forfeited his chance to live the life he was gifted by God – a life that would consist of catching footballs thrown by Tom Brady, a life that would let him love his daughter and fiancee, a life that could lead to financial security for everyone in his family.

Many sports pundits this morning expressed not feeling bad for Aaron Hernandez. I do feel bad for him. I feel bad for his family. I feel bad that his life was a series of bad choices that led to his death. I feel bad that when he talk about Aaron Hernandez, we won’t talk about the football star he could have been. I feel bad that he became a cautionary tale to other young football players. I feel bad that he felt so desperate about his situation that the only rational option he felt he had was suicide. I feel bad that his 30 For 30 will be closer to a Shakespearian tragedy instead of a celebration.

Aaron Hernandez was the product of his choices and it’s all just so sad. That’s all it is – just sad.