Hernandez friends in Connecticut: ‘Everybody was so proud of him’

BRISTOL, Conn. (WHDH) — Family members of Aaron Hernandez in Connecticut said they were shocked to learn he took his own life in jail, with relatives saying they never thought he would be a criminal.

“He was the first one to make it. From our side of the family, he was the first one to make it,” said Hernandez’s cousin Randy Garcia through tears. Garcia said Hernandez was always “joyful” and called him a charming person who would give you the shirt off his back.

“We never saw him in any way, shape or form, or even think of him being a criminal, a convict, however other people want to think of him as,” said Garcia.

Hernandez was born and raised in Bristol, where he was on the high school football team before playing for the University of Florida.

“A lot of people looked up to him,” said friend Jose Cartagna. “He was a guy that was leaving a small town and he was doing big things so everybody was proud of him.”

“He was only 27 years old,” said high school friend Kyle Connolly. “Twenty-seven years old, there’s no need to give up faith that young.”

At Hernandez’s uncle’s house in Bristol, signs were posted on both the front and back doors saying that the family will not comment on his death. Hernandez’s uncle’s house was searched back in 2013 in connection with the murder of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez was later convicted of Lloyd’s murder and was serving a life sentence without parole at the time of his death.

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