Ex-Patriots player Aaron Hernandez found dead in prison cell

Correction officers at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, discovered Hernandez hanged in his prison cell "utilizing a bedsheet."
6:19 | 04/20/17

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Transcript for Ex-Patriots player Aaron Hernandez found dead in prison cell
Now to the story that is sending waves of astonishment through the sports world. The one-time star tight end for the new England patriots Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell this morning on the same day when his former teammates from the patriots were at the white house celebrating a super bowl win. Hernandez! A shocking ending for a young man who was not long ago seemingly on top of the world. Aaron Hernandez an up and comer on the powerhouse new England patriots. He played in a super bowl. Touchdown Hernandez! Reporter: And had a contract worth $40 million. But shortly after 3:00 this morning prison guards found the 27-year-old unresponsive in his cell at the souza-baranowski correctional center in Shirley, Massachusetts. Officials say he was found hanging from a bed sheet with a bible verse John 3:16, a reference to eternal life through Jesus, written across his forehead. Hernandez was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. The first thing you think of when you hear about the death of Aaron Hernandez is the death of Odin Lloyd and what his family had to go through with his death. Reporter: Only five days ago -- You find the defendant not guilty, guilty of murder in the first degree, guilty of murder in the second degree? Not guilty. Reporter: He had just been acquitted in a separate murder case. After the jury read the verdict Hernandez mouthed the words "I love you" to his fiancee. His cousin says the family is in pain tonight. He was the first one to make it. From our side of the family, he was the first one. Reporter: Reaction to Hernandez's death pouring in from around the country. The rapper snoop Dogg tweeting, this is sad. Former wide receiver Donte Stallworth reminding the world that Hernandez's 4-year-old daughter will forever suffer from this loss. At the risk of sounding cold or callous, I was somewhat indifferent to the news. Because at the end of the day we're talking about someone with a very violent past who killed someone. Most of my condolences still go to the families that are missing loved ones. Reporter: Today officials at the Massachusetts department of corrections said they had no prior concern that Hernandez was planning to take his own life. Lawyers for Hernandez say they were actually exploring an appeal to the murder conviction for which he was serving the life sentence. Those who knew Hernandez personally are expressing doubts as to whether he killed himself. We still think that there's no way that Aaron would take his own life. Reporter: One of his agents, Brian Murphy, took to Twitter to say, absolutely no chance he took his own life. The Massachusetts state police and the Worcester county da's office are investigating the circumstances of Hernandez's death. An autopsy is being performed in Boston. They're also looking at his recent time in prison, including prior fights and any gang-related disputes he may have had. Hernandez was found dead just hours before his former teammates from the patriots paid a visit to the white house to celebrate their recent super bowl victory. A spokesperson for the patriots said they would not be commenting today on Hernandez's death. The patriots head coach, bill Belichick, when asked during a recent CNBC interview what one word he would use to describe Hernandez said -- Tragedy. Heartbreaking. Yes. That would be another word. Reporter: Aaron Hernandez was raised in a tough neighborhood in Bristol, Connecticut. When he was a teenager he suffered the grievous loss of his father with whom he was very close. I think any young child who loses a parent at such an impressionable age, particularly somebody that needed that guidance, it's obviously a huge setback for that particular person. Reporter: A few years later, Hernandez rose to fame as an all-American tight end at the university of Florida, winning the 2009 national championship. Aaron Hernandez was an all-state player, highly recruited. He had first-round talent. Reporter: He eventually went on to play for the new England patriots from 2010 to 2012. This is someone who was seen as a very, very talented individual, and young, and someone who was supposed to be part of the organization for a long time. Reporter: Signing that five-year, $40 million deal and hitting the field for super bowl XLVI. Touchdown Hernandez! Reporter: But he was cut from the team in 2013 after his arrest in the murder of Odin Lloyd. This was a complete shock to new England and certainly to the sports world. Reporter: Hernandez charged with first-degree murder and went on trial in January of 2015. You orchestrated, participated in the killing, and covered up the killing. Reporter: Prosecutors say Hernandez and two of his friends picked up Lloyd at his home in Boston in June of 2013 and drove him to an industrial park where they killed him. He pled not guilty, but in April of 2015, he was convicted of first-degree murder. Guilty of murder in the first degree. Reporter: Which carries a mandatory life sentence. He was stone-faced. Very little emotion. He looked at his fiancee, who was absolutely in tears, and mouthed the words "Stay strong." Reporter: It was a precipitous crash for a once-beloved player. His cousin remembers better times. Whenever he came from practice or he came into town he would always ask every one of us if we needed anything, what can I do for you? He was a good-hearted person and not the mean-spirited, evil that all these other people comment on or see him as. Reporter: Two years after his conviction in the Odin Lloyd case, Hernandez would go on trial again, this time for another set of murders. He was accused of shooting two men after one of them accidentally spilled a drink on him at a bar. That was the not guilty verdict that came down on Friday. Just days after this scene, Hernandez would be dead. A sad and surprising twist in a once-promising young life that went horribly awry.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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