Long before he made national headlines, he was a standout athlete in Bristol, Connecticut, who came from a family described as a local sports dynasty. Hernandez left high school halfway through his senior year in January 2007 to join the University of Florida Gators. He entered the NFL draft after his junior year and was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round.
By the end of the second season, he inked a five-year contract extension worth $40 million. But less than a year later, he was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd. Two hours after his arrest on June 26, 2013, the Patriots dropped him from the team.
Hernandez has also been charged in the slayings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, and some of his closest associates are facing serious charges in connection with the alleged crimes.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty. The murder trial for the shooting death of Lloyd begins in January. Here is a primer on some of the names you might be hearing about
was a 27-year-old semi-pro football player. He was found dead on June 17, 2013, less than a mile from Hernandez's home in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. He had been shot seven times. Lloyd met Hernandez while dating Shaneah Jenkins, the sister of Hernandez's fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins. Hernandez is charged with orchestrating Lloyd's execution.
Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado
Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado
were killed outside a Boston nightclub on July 16, 2012. Prosecutors say de Abreu accidentally bumped into Hernandez, spilling a drink. Later that night, Hernandez was driving an SUV and allegedly pulled up alongside de Abreu and Furtado's car near the nightclub and fired a .38-caliber revolver at them.
Alexander Bradley is a former friend of Hernandez who was allegedly with Hernandez
on the night de Abreu and Furtado were killed. He is not facing any charges in that case, but he is jailed on unrelated charges. He is suing Hernandez
for allegedly shooting him in the face in February 2013. Bradley claims Hernandez accused him of "disrespecting him" over a cell phone left in a Miami strip club.
Carlos Ortiz, nicknamed Charlie Boy, is also charged with murder in the death Odin Lloyd and has pleaded not guilty. A law enforcement source said he cooperated with police
and described the night of Lloyd's death.
Ernest Wallace, nicknamed Hobo, is also charged with murder
in the death of Odin Lloyd. He has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors call him the "muscle man" for Hernandez. They say he was in the car with Hernandez, Lloyd and Carlos Ortiz an hour before the car is seen on video heading to the industrial park where Lloyd was killed.
Shayanna Jenkins is Hernandez's fiancee and the mother of his daughter. She is charged with perjury
, allegedly lying to a grand jury about guns in their home. She has pleaded not guilty. Her sister, Shaneah, was dating Odin Lloyd at the time of his death.
Shaneah Jenkins is the girlfriend of Odin Lloyd. Her sister is Hernandez's fiancée. In court, the two sisters sit on opposite sides, Shayanna with the defense and Shaneah with the prosecution.
Tanya Cummings-Singleton is a cousin of Hernandez. In her garage, police found the SUV allegedly driven by Hernandez and linked to the 2012 Boston double homicide. She was twice charged with contempt of court for refusing to testify before two grand juries despite immunity offers. She has pleaded guilty to obstruction in the Lloyd case. She is also suffering from cancer.
Thaddeus Singleton, husband of Tanya Cummings-Singleton, was killed in a car accident after Lloyd's slaying. Police say his speeding car went airborne and crashed. A source says police planned to interview him about his relationship with Hernandez.
Shaquilla Thibou is the sister of Odin Lloyd. Prosecutors say she saw her brother get into a car with Hernandez, Wallace and Ortiz before he was killed. Prosecutors say she received a text from her brother that night telling her he was with "Nfl," adding, "just so u know."
Terri Hernandez is Aaron Hernandez's mother. She is a school secretary.
Dennis Hernandez was Aaron Hernandez's father. He had a close relationship with his sons and was deeply involved in their sports training. He died unexpectedly after hernia surgery when Hernandez was 16.
DJ Hernandez is Aaron Hernandez's older brother. He was a star high school athlete. He also was a standout athlete at the University of Connecticut and now is an assistant coach at the University of Iowa.
Andrew Booker shared a jail unit with Aaron Hernandez. The two allegedly got into a jail fight
, and Hernandez was indicted in Booker's assault.
District Attorney Samuel Sutter is leading the prosecution
against Hernandez, along with William McCauley and Patrick Bomberg. "Probably my career ... will be defined more by this case than all of the other things we've done," Sutter told CNN.
Attorneys James Sultan, Michael Fee and Charles Rankin are handling Hernandez's defense. Rankin says "not one shred of evidence has been presented yet." He said he is confident Hernandez will be exonerated.