Several people close to former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez said he was gay and the burden caused by trying to keep his sexuality private may have contributed to violent outbursts before his 2017 death.
On Saturday, TMZ Sports provided details from the documentary Aaron Hernandez Uncovered, which is set to air in two parts Saturday and Sunday night on the Oxygen Network. Those interviewed include George Leontire, an openly gay member of the NFL player's legal defense team.
"This man clearly was gay," Leontire said. "...[He] acknowledged it. Acknowledged the immense pain that it caused him. I think that he also came out of a culture that was so negative about gay people that he exhibited some self-hatred."
Hernandez was engaged to Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, and the couple had a child together. He never discussed his sexuality in public.
Alyssa Anderson, a college girlfriend at the University of Florida, says in the documentary she discovered he was having a relationship with a man and that he later "cryptically acknowledged her suspicions were true."
In April 2015, Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted for the 2013 murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
A Boston University neuropathologist announced in November an examination of Hernandez's brain revealed a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease, per Nadia Kounang of CNN.
"This is the first case that we've seen that kind of damage in such a young individual," Dr. Ann McKee said.
Hernandez was 27 at the time of his death.