Even though he played for the New England Patriots, I kinda liked Aaron Hernandez the football player: He was fast, had great hands and clearly had skills.
The only things that seemed to stop Hernandez on the field were injuries and, of course, himself.
As good as Hernandez may have been on the field, Aaron Hernandez the person certainly left a lot to be desired.
I use the past tense to describe Hernandez’s life because on Wednesday morning, the former $40 million man was found dead in his jail cell — a victim of an apparent suicide.
For those of you unaware of the story, Hernandez was in that jail cell serving a life sentence for murdering his friend in 2013.
I’m not interested in rehashing all of Hernandez’s sins. Journalists way better than me have done that. Not to mention, it’s disrespectful.
However, as sad as Hernandez’s story is — his former Patriots coach Bill Belichick summed it up in one word: “tragic” — there are some lessons we all can learn from this fall from grace.
1. Just because a person appears to have everything squared away on the outside, that doesn’t make it true. How many times have we heard someone say, “I’d never do (name the offense) if I played in the NFL”?
Probably as much as you’ve heard people say that a person they knew “could never do (name the offense).”
Fact of the matter is, nobody knows everything about a person.
2. Money doesn’t make you a better person. It makes you more of the person you were before you had money. If you cheated when you were broke, there’s a good chance you are going to cheat when you are rich.
3. Dads matter. We all know how important parents are, but most people point first to mothers. However, most people who know Hernandez’s story point to his father’s death as the turning point in his life. Kids — boys and girls — need good (not perfect) fathers.
Having a dad doesn’t guarantee success. Most criminals probably had positive relationships with their dads. But at the end of the day, a good old man can go a long way in being successful and handling success.
4. Suicide is never the answer. Even in a jail cell, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Nobody knows how life is going to turn out. Aaron Hernandez could have turned things around and helped countless people learn from his story. He may even have found a way out of his cell.
It could have been a story of redemption that would have changed Hernandez’s legacy from that of being a man who gave up everything and made tragic decisions to a man who learned and lived to make things right.
Of course, we’ll never know now. All we can do is shake our heads and, hopefully, learn.
If you have comments on this or anything to do with sports, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @CTJibber.