Celebrated footballer, Aaron Hernandez’s death opened up a can of worms from his past. A volley of questions continue to plague the minds of his fans world over: Why did a young promising soccer star who clinched a $40 million contract hack, Odin Lloyd, to death in June 2013? Why did Aaron suicide in prison just days after he had been freed off the charges from a separate double-murder trial? Did his phone calls to close friends and family drop a major hint about his mental health, days before his demise? Either way, one thing is certain—Dennis Hernandez, Aaron’s father, had a lot to do with his tumultuous growing up years. His violent and abusive ways were known and here are five facts you must know.

1) Dennis, the monstrous dad: Dennis was a noted high school sports star in their hometown of Bristol, Connecticut. He wished for mammoth success for both his sons, Jonathan and Aaron. Dennis, however, often used abuse as an instrument to motivate his sons. And his disciplinarian ways often oscillated from severe to downright abusive. Recollecting one such horror story, Jonathan reportedly stated, “I picked up the phone once to call, to seek help,” he told in an interview with the Globe, about how he wanted to let the cops know about his father’s abusive ways. “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.” That’s not all. It was learned that Dennis often treated his sons to impulsive lashings, for no real reason at all.

2) His tryst with drugs: Dennis Hernandez was not just an abusive dad, he was a really violent spouse as well. It is learned that Aaron once revealed that he grew up in a household where everyone was arguing 24/7 and there was much to argue about. Records show that after Dennis and Terri married in 1986, they parted ways in 1991 when Aaron was a toddler, only to get remarried again in 1996 when Aaron was 6. Also in 1999, when Aaron was 9, the couple were so bad in terms of financial condition that they filed for bankruptcy, with a credit card and other debts. Aaron’s mother Terri often threw Dennis out, only to take him back as she claimed to have loved him.

Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez sits in the courtroom of the Attleboro District Court during his hearing Getty Images

3) Dennis’s rough ways weren’t unknown: As far as popular reports go by, when Aaron was just 8, he was being trained under a youth tackle football coach named Tim SanSoucie, Aaron’s father made it clear that he wasn’t quite impressed with SanSoucie’s coaching decisions. One day, after a heated altercation, Aaron’s father got physical and things turned ugly. “He promptly turned around and clocked me one across the face, broke my glasses off my face,” said SanSoucie in an interview to a media outlet in his son’s home in Las Vegas. While cops were involved, the case came to a close after Aaron’s father was ordered to pay for the broken eyeglasses. Dennis never paid up for the damages, though.

4) Dennis often defined what “manliness” meant: Tales of Dennis’s abuse isn’t new, especially for those who resided in Bristol. Early in his childhood, Aaron harbored a desire to become a cheerleader.“I remember he wanted to be a cheerleader. My cousins were cheerleaders and amazing,” Jonathan said in an interview. “And I remember coming home and like my dad put an end to that really quick. And it was not OK. My dad made it clear that … he had his definition of a man,” Jonathan recollects.

5) Dennis was homophobic: Denniswas brutally against homosexuality and despised the very thought of it. ‘Faggot’ was used all the time in our house,” Jonathan recollected in an interview. “All the time. Standing. Talking. Acting. Looking. It was the furthest thing my father wanted you to even look like in our household. This was not acceptable to him.” Being subjected to inane ideologies forced upon himself by his father must have been too much for Aaron’s teenage self to digest, more so as he was exploring his sexuality. Yet, Aaron firmly kept his thoughts to himself. It is also revealed that Aaronwas sexually abused as a child, though neither Aaron nor Jonathan divulged the identity of the perpetrator.

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