A look back on the talented player’s NFL start and the series of events that ultimately resulted in his death.
USA TODAY Sports
The family for Aaron Hernandez plans to donate the brain of the former New England Patriots tight end to concussion researchers, one of his lawyers told reporters in Boston on Thursday.
Attorney Jose Baez said that the family has authorized Boston University — where dozens of brains have been examined in recent years in the study of the debilitating brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — to study Hernandez’s brain. Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of former longtime friend Odin Lloyd, died Wednesday after he was found hanging from a bed sheet in his prison cell.
“The family of Aaron Hernandez has decided to donate Aaron’s brain to the study so we can possibly help other young men who play football … further the cause, and possibly shed light and provide more evidence on this case,” Baez said.
Baez said the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has not released the brain to researchers as of 2 pm on Thursday. His body has been released following the autopsy, and Baez said famed pathologist Michael Baden has been tapped to conduct an independent autopsy.
“It is our position that they are holding Aaron Hernandez’s brain illegally,” Baez said. “There is a fixing procedure to prepare these specimens. It is their position that they are going to be the ones to do the fixing procedure. The family does not have confidence in the medical examiner’s office.”
A message with left medical examiner’s office by USA TODAY Spots was not immediately returned. Boston University CTE Center spokesperson Maria Ober said per the center’s policy, it “cannot discuss any ongoing, completed or potential cases without specific consent from the family.”
Boston University researchers have found CTE in the brains of 92 of the 96 brains of deceased NFL players. The progressive disease, linked to repeated head impact, can lead to depression, memory loss and the lack of impulse control.
“You don’t make a conclusion without looking,” Baez said when asked if he thought Hernandez suffered from CTE. “We are leaving no stone unturned as I promised this family I would do.”
Baez appeared to question whether Hernandez’s death was a suicide in a statement on Wednesday, although he didn’t outright question the manner in which his client died when asked by reporters on Thursday
“As it relates to a suicide or not, we don’t make that call until (the investigation) is done,” Baez said. “”Why are you so quick to accept their word?”
PHOTOS: Aaron Hernandez’s life