Aaron Hernandez’s mother, Terri, sobbed openly in court after her son was sentenced to life in prison for the first degree murder of Odin Lloyd. From losing her husband suddenly in 2006 to her own legal troubles, life has been difficult for Terri Hernandez.
Here’s what you need to know about her…
1. She Used to Work as an Illegal Bookie
Like her son, Terri Hernandez is not a stranger to the police. In 2001, she was charged with working as a bookie for a local restaurant owner in Bristol, Connecticut, Marty Hovansian. State police in Connecticut tapped her home phone and through investigations determined she was making $300 per week taking wagers and doing the books for the large scale gambling operation. Hernandez took bets on basketball, baseball and, of course, the NFL.
She was never prosecuted for her crimes but Marty Hovansian was fined $10,000 for corrupt organization racketeering. During the course of the police wiretaps, detectives estimated over $70,000 worth of wagers had been placed.
2. She Was Widowed in 2006
Her husband Dennis Hernandez died in January 2006 after complications stemming from hernia surgery. He was just shy of his 50th birthday when he passed. Dennis Hernandez was the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, Bienvenido and Josephine Garcia Hernandez.
According to Terri Hernandez:
“Watching his son’s play sports was Dennis’ greatest joy.”
Aaron Hernandez has two of his father’s favorite quotes tattoo’d on his upper arm, they read:
It’s it is to be, it is up to me.
The difference between the impossible and the possible lies on a person’s determination.
His death is said to have greatly impacted the young Aaron Hernandez’s life. Aaron Hernandez reflected on the death, saying:
It was more like a shock. Everyone was close to my father, but I was the closest, I was with him more than my friends. When that happened, who do I talk to, who do I hang with? It was tough.
3. Her Second Husband Stabbed Her in the Face
After Dennis Hernandez’s death, she married Jeffrey Cummings, a landscaper. In June 2010, police were called to their home in Bristol when Cummings held Hernandez down during an argument and cut a three-and-a-half-inch laceration on her right cheek with an eight-inch knife blade. Cummings was arrested by cops in the couple’s backyard where Aaron Hernandez was first taught to play football by his father.
4. The ‘Hernandez Curse’
Some in Bristol, Connecticut have spoken of a “Hernandez Curse” associated with the family. Just four days after Aaron Hernandez was charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd, his cousin, Terri Hernandez’s nephew, Thaddeus Singleton III, was killed in a car wreck near Bristol. He had been scheduled to be interviewed by police in relation to Aaron Hernandez’s arrest.
Then on August 3, her brother, Robert Valentine, was killed in an accident when he crashed his moped in Bristol. He suffered from massive head trauma, Valentine had not been wearing a helmet.
Lt. Donn Watson of the Bristol Police told reporters:
There’s absolutely no evidence that leads us to believe there is a conspiracy, it just happens to be a streak of bad luck for the family.
5. Despite Her Son’s $40 Million Salary, She Maintained a Day Job
Even since April 2013 when her son signed a massive $40 million contract with the New England Patriots, Hernandez maintained her job as an administrative secretary at the South Side School in Bristol.
The Daily News wrote about her commute to work:
She commutes less than a mile to work…From the outside, Hernandez’s world seems small and intact, but as teachers and administrators prepare for another school year she is piecing her life back together.
6. Prior to the 2012 Super Bowl, the School Held a Rally For Hernandez
A large scale party was held in the gymnasium of the South Side School with teachers wearing t-shirts that read: “Go Patriots! From the hometown of Aaron Hernandez.” A taped message was played from the then-Patriots’ tight-end who told the students:
Make sure you listen to all of your teachers.
Terri Hernandez was then presented with a bouquet of flowers and given a sash that read:
Super Bowl Mom!
7. She’s Maintaing Her Son’s Innocence
Despite the damming evidence against him, Terri Hernandez told The Bristol Press on June 26:
All I can say is that he will be cleared of all these charges in the end, just let it play out until the end.
8. She Credits Her Eldest Son, DJ, With Helping to Raise Aaron
Aaron Hernandez was 16 when his father, Dennis died. His older brother DJ (Dennis Junior) who was 20 at the time stepped into the breech to help focus his brother on football. Terri Hernandez said “she didn’t know how she could handle things without D.J.” Aaron Hernandez’s older brother, who is now a coach at the University of Iowa, was a local high school legend until an injury cut short his career.
Terri Hernandez also credits the help of her brothers in-law, David (Dennis Hernandez’s twin) and Vito, in helping to focus Hernandez to maximize his football potential.
9. Aaron Hernandez Claims He Got His ‘Character’ From His Mother
Upon signing his massive 5-year contract extension with the Patriots in April 2012, worth over $40 million, Aaron Hernandez told The Boston Globe:
Bill and all them can negotiate with me, but [Kraft’s] the one that has the final decision and him saying, ‘I want you around here for the next seven years’ is saying he really wants me to be a part of his family.
He didn’t need to give me the amount he gave me and knowing he thinks I deserve that and he trusts me to make the right decisions, it means a lot. It means he trusts in my character and the person I am, which means a lot. My mother [Terri], that’s how she raised me.
10. Terri Hernandez Made Sure Aaron Didn’t Get Away With Much in School
According to Gary Maynard, the principal of the South Side School, and Terri Hernandez’s boss, told The Hartford Courant in 2012 that Aaron Hernandez, a former student was:
…a superior athlete who always played by the rules…
He was a great kid.He used to help the other kids. He was a good athlete and he would show them how to play, give them pointers on how they can improve…
If your mother’s a secretary, you’re not going to get away with much