Hernandez’s Florida History Went From Champion to Suspect

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Before his short lived NFL career and the subsequent legal battles that led to his early exit from the game, Aaron Hernandez spent his college years as a star for the Florida Gators – starting an association with the Sunshine State that would play a role in his future for both good and bad reasons.

A Connecticut native, Hernandez arrived at the UF campus in 2007, where he would become one of the top tight ends in the college game. His college career included a national championship in 2008 (won at what is now Hard Rock Stadium) and being named the top tight end in the country and an All-American the following year.

Drafted in 2010 by the New England Patriots, Hernandez played three career NFL games in Miami against the Dolphins, catching 20 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown. His former teammate at Florida, current Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, posted a message on Instagram shortly after his death was announced:

Of course, Hernandez had his off-field issues in the area. He was arrested during his freshman year at Florida for an incident outside of a restaurant where he allegedly punched an employee after being kicked out. Hernandez was also a person of interest in a shooting outside of a nightclub later that year – a case that was brought to light during his trial and conviction in the death of former friend Odin Lloyd.

In 2013, he allegedly shot a friend, Alexander Bradley, in Palm Beach County following a fight at famed Miami strip club Tootsie’s. Bradley, who lost his right eye after the shooting, originally did not name Hernandez as the shooter but later filed a civil suit against the football star.

Hernandez was indicted in 2015 for witness intimidation for the shooting, as Bradley was reportedly a witness to the 2012 double homicide in Boston that Hernandez was acquitted of just last week.