Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, on April 19, 2017. The former New England Patriots tight end was serving a life sentence after being convicted of first degree murder in the killing of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez’s death came days after he was acquitted in a double homicide case. The jury did not find him guilty of murdering Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, but Hernandez was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.
According to The Richest, Hernandez’s net worth was estimated at $50 thousand at the time of his death. Net Worth Celebrity estimates that Hernandez had a net worth of $8 million at the height of his NFL career.
Hernandez is survived by his daughter, Avielle, 5, his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, his older brother D.J. Hernandez, and his mother, Terri Hernandez (his dad passed away in 2006).
Here is what you need to know:
1. His Estate Is Worth $0
At the time of his death, Hernandez’s estate was worth $0. The Boston Herald obtained court documents last month that stated that Hernandez’s home is worthless and must be sold. On Friday, April 28, 2017, the 15-room, 7,100-square-foot home has been listed for sale for $1.3 million. The home was sold to a real estate investor in November 2017, according to the Boston Globe.
The home, which boasts a swimming pool with waterfall, a theater, and a sauna, is still listed for sale today.
Hernandez also owned a condo in North Providence, but it’s believed that property has also been sold.
2. He Started ‘Running Out of Money’ in 2015
Hernandez spent almost every last penny that he had to pay for his lawyers and other legal bills and fees. In 2014, Fox Sports reported that Massachusetts taxpayers could have been forced to “pick up Hernandez’s legal tab.” The rate for an attorney who handles a murder case is $100/hour, according to the report.
“Despite some pretty wild and baseless speculative allegations made about piles of money, there are no piles of money,” attorney John Fitzpatrick told a judge in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on May 21, 2015, according to CBS News.
Following his death, Hernandez had “no monies available and no identifiable personal assets.” He did not leave behind a will of any kind, according to People Magazine.
3. He Signed a 7-Year, $40 Million Contract With the Patriots in 2012
The Patriots offered Hernandez a 7-year deal worth $39,582,000 in 2012 that would have taken him through the 2018-2019 season before he would become a free agent. The deal included a $12,500,000 signing bonus, which was to be paid out over seven years.
In 2012, Hernandez was paid $540,000 as his base salary and $2,550,000 of his signing bonus. In addition to other income, Hernandez was paid $9,990,000 in his first year with the team. In 2013, he was expected to make more money, the breakdown increasing each year.
In 2010, when Hernandez was first drafted by the team, he earned $596,000 in cash. The following year, he earned $650,000.
Hernandez was arrested at his North Attleboro, Massachusetts, home on June 26, 2013. Within 90 minutes of his arrest, the Patriots cut him from the team. From that day forward, Hernandez did not earn a paycheck from football.
Had Hernandez not been involved with the law, he would have earned upwards of $17 million in the 2017-2018 season.
4. His Fiancee Could Receive Money if the Patriots Are Forced to Pay
Hernandez left his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez (who changed her last name despite never marrying the former NFLer), a suicide note before taking his own life. In the note, Hernandez wrote “you’re rich,” perhaps implying that his fiancee was going to receive money after his passing.
At the time of Hernandez’s death, the Odin Lloyd murder case had been appealed. According to a Massachusetts state law, this meant that Hernandez was technically “innocent until proven guilty” as the appeal wiped the previous trial from record. On May 9, Judge E. Susan Garsh dismissed the charges against Hernandez, upholding the long-standing law that cites “abatement ab initio,” which translates to “from the beginning.”
“The longstanding rule is…abating the entire prosecution as if it never happened. This court is compelled to follow binding precedent,” Judge Garsh told the court before delivering her verdict.
It is now widely speculated that the Patriots may owe Hernandez money — to the tune of approximately $6 million.
“In June 2013, the Patriots withheld $3.25 million of Hernandez’s signing bonus. They also refused to pay him his $2.5 million in his guaranteed base salary. New England cited the collective bargaining agreement as their reason for withholding that guaranteed money. That’s the money Hernandez’s lawyers will likely pursue,” reports Patriots Wire.
The Patriots have not commented on the situation following Hernandez’s death and the subsequent vacating of his convictions.
You can read the suicide note that Hernandez left his fiancee below.
This is also a chance that Hernandez had a life insurance policy that could pay out.
“If Hernandez had a life insurance policy, the policy may dictate that benefits are not paid to his family if the cause of death is suicide. Many life insurance policies, however, stipulate that instead of an outright denial of payment for death by suicide, the payment is delayed for a period of time. When the life insurance policy was purchased often matters, too: a denial is more likely if the suicide occurred within a year or two of the policy being purchased,” Sports Illustrated reports.
There is also a possibility that Hernandez’s family will be owed a pension from the NFL. Said pension would be protected from any creditor — including any person seeking money in a civil lawsuit — thanks to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
5. Wrongful-Death Lawsuits Are Still in Play
“Her lawyers are trying to track down his assets and court records indicate she could be awarded more than $5 million,” CBS News reported in 2015.
The ex-Patriot also faced civil lawsuits filed by the families of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, the two men he was acquitted of killing. Each family is said to be seeking $6 million in damages.
“Hernandez’s death does not automatically terminate civil lawsuits filed against him by family members of his victims and alleged victims. Normally those lawsuits continue, with Hernandez’s estate replacing him as the defendant. Although the legal burden for proving civil liability is only preponderance of evidence (more probable than not), the nullifying of Hernandez’s convictions through ‘abatement ab initio’ presents an unexpected challenge for attorneys representing the families. Those attorneys—especially those representing the family of Lloyd—would have relied on Hernandez’s convictions to help establish that if he was convicted criminally, which requires beyond a reasonable doubt, then he must be liable in a civil case given the lower burden of proof required,” reports Sports Illustrated.