As the name Aaron Hernandez first found its way into the national spotlight, the high school football star seemed to have it all.
The supportive father who helped him reach incredible heights on the field. The natural talent, confidence, and drive. The high school sweetheart. The good looks.
But already a young Hernandez was tangled in a secret life, one that would slowly reveal itself as he found himself consumed by demons past and present.
His brother has now revealed to the
Years later, as a rising football star in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut, Hernandez found himself in a secret sexual relationship with a teammate.
Dennis SanSoucie (right), Aaron Hernandez’s secret gay lover from middle school and high school, is speaking out for the first time
Family members have also since revealed that Hernandez was molested as a young child. He is pictured here in a 2007 yearbook photo
On the field, Hernandez and Dennis SanSoucie worked in perfect harmony for Bristol Central High School’s football team.
Hernandez shined as a pass receiver with SanSoucie, the Bristol Rams’ quarterback. In the first four games of their junior year, the pair had nine touchdown completions.
That year alone Hernandez would catch 67 passes for a total of 1,807 yards, smashing state records and catching the attention of top college recruiters across the country.
But off the field he was developing a connection with SanSoucie that went far deeper than sport.
The pair first began exploring a sexual relationship in middle school, which SanSoucie revealed continued into high school – even as Hernandez began to date Shayanna Jenkins, who would later become his fiancee and mother of his child.
‘Me and him were very much into trying to hide what we were doing,’ SanSoucie, who later joined the US Marines, told the Globe. ‘We didn’t want people to know.’
That was partially due to their traditional community, but also in large part due to Hernandez’s own home.
Hernandez (pictured in 2007) shined as a pass receiver with SanSoucie, the team quarterback. In the first four games of their junior year, the pair had nine touchdown completions
The pair first began exploring a sexual relationship in middle school, which SanSoucie revealed continued into high school. Hernandez is pictured here in 2007
To outside observers, Hernandez’s father Dennis was the ultimate supportive dad.
When he suddenly died at the age of 49, during his younger sonXCHARXs junior year, many believed it crushed Hernandez and marked the beginning of his downfall.
But family members have since revealed that Dennis ran a home where homophobia was rampant and abuse was the ultimate motivational tool.
Jonathan Hernandez, the NFL star’s older brother, said Dennis long had concerns that Hernandez ‘had a feminine way about him’.
He closely watched at how his youngest son ‘stood or used his hands’. And he became enraged when a young Hernandez expressed interest in cheerleading.
XCHARXHe wanted to be a cheerleader. My cousins were cheerleaders and amazing,XCHARX Jonathan, 32, recalled.
‘And I remember coming home and my dad put an end to that real quick. And it was not okay. My dad made it clear that he had his definition of a man.’
Dennis also frequently threw around the term f****t, which Jonathan said he used ‘all the time’.
‘Me and him were very much into trying to hide what we were doing,’ SanSoucie, who later joined the US Marines, told the Globe. ‘We didn’t want people to know’
SanSoucie himself only decided to come out to his family and friends after Hernandez’s death. ‘I really, truly feel in my heart I got the thumbs-up from him,’ he said
‘Standing. Talking. Acting. Looking. It was the furthest thing my father wanted you to even look like in our household,’ he said. ‘This was not acceptable to him.’
And Dennis was a man to be feared in the Hernandez household, ruling his son’s with an iron fist.
Sometimes they came as punishment, such as when Dennis left Hernandez with a black eye because he drank before a school dance.
Sometimes they came when Dennis felt his boys weren’t working hard enough in school or at football. Other times they came for no discernible reason at all.
One time it got so bad that Jonathan threatened to call the authorities. But Dennis remained unfazed.
But family members have since revealed that Hernandez’s father Dennis (pictured together with his brother Jonathan) ran a home where homophobia was rampant
Jonathan Hernandez said Dennis long had concerns that Hernandez ‘had a feminine way about him’. The brothers are pictured here together while he was playing for the Patriots
‘I picked up the phone once to call, to seek help,’ he recalled. ‘And his response was. “Call them.”‘
‘And he handed me the phone, and he said “I’m going to beat you even harder, you and your brother, and they’re going to have to pull me off of you when they knock down the door.”‘
Hernandez would later tell both Jonathan and one of his lawyers, George Leontire, about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
Both Jonathan and Leontire – who later said that Hernandez ‘clearly was gay’ – have refused to name his abuser.
Dennis also threw around the term f****t, which Jonathan said he used XCHARXall the timeXCHARX while the boys were growing up. Pictured is Hernandez in his 2007 yearbook photo
A college girlfriend later revealed that Hernandez had also told her about being molested as a child, saying: ‘He never dealt with it. It led to issues in his sexuality’.
It was just one of many secrets that appeared to torture Hernandez in his short adult life, to be revealed only after he committed suicide in his jail cell in April 2017.
SanSoucie himself only decided to come out to his family and friends after Hernandez’s death.
‘I really, truly feel in my heart I got the thumbs-up from him,’ he said.
Hernandez’s shocking suicide came five days after he was acquitted for the murder of Odin Lloyd and two years after he had been sentenced to life in prison.
The former New England Patriots star reportedly took his own life two days after he was outed on The Kirk & Callahan Show.
Hernandez’s fiancee Shayanna Jenkins said she had no clue about his sexuality until after he killed himself
The former New England Patriots star reportedly took his own life two days after he was outed on The Kirk & Callahan Show, which came five days after he was acquitted of murder
He was called a ‘tight end on and off the field’ and a ‘wide receiver’ on the show.
But, as she did throughout his murder trial and after his death, Jenkins-Hernandez remained one of his ultimate defenders.
‘I saw no indication that he was gay or homosexual. I wish I had known how he felt, just so we could have talked about it,’ Jenkins-Hernandez wrote in a foreword for a book about Hernandez’s final days.
‘I wouldn’t have disowned him,’ she continued. ‘I would have been supportive. I can’t fault him if he was feeling that way.’
‘When you love someone so much you just want to be there to support them. The fact that he felt he couldn’t come out to me or he couldn’t tell me these things hurts, because we had that bond.’
‘I’ve accepted that he may have been the way he was said to be, or that it may not be true. Regardless, I won’t know.’
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