Three reasons why the death of Aaron Hernandez is a tragedy, even if it doesn’t feel like one

This morning around 6:30am I was hanging out with my six-month-old son before heading off to daycare. Like most mornings, I had the TV on to Mike & Mike just to get an idea of what the sports stories of the day were going to be. After coming back from commercial, Mike Greenberg broke the news that former Patriots tight end and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez had been found dead in his jail cell.

I knew this would be the story of the day.

By mid morning there were articles floating around Facebook. Once the afternoon hit, we started getting videos of different takes on the news from different commentators around the sports world. One of those takes was from Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd. You can watch his view below:

In that clip, Cowherd says this:

“My sympathy and sadness is for orphans, burn victims, poor kids beaten viciously and never given opportunities. I don’t know how to classify what happened to Aaron Hernandez other than the fact he sat trial for three murders. His life ended the way he lived it: harshly. Tragedies to me are school buses full of children running off a cliff.”

His opinion is completely justified. I understand it 100%. It’s hard to look at a man who was convicted of one murder, acquitted of two murders, and rumored to be a part of up to four others and say dying in prison was anything other than deserved. His death doesn’t feel like a tragedy.

But if we step back and take our emotions and feelings out of it, Aaron Hernandez’s death certainly was a tragedy. Here are three reasons why:

1 – A little girl’s dad is dead.

Aaron Hernandez has a four year old daughter. On one of the shows covering this story today, ESPN’s Adam Schefter told a story of how last week, while waiting a ruling on his latest charges, his daughter began “begging” to see her dad. Hernandez’s fiance brought the daughter to the courtroom and, when Hernandez saw her, he began blowing her kisses. The things he has done are horrible, but to this four-year-old girl, he is her daddy. A dad serving a life sentence in prison is still better than a dad who is dead. It’s a tragedy Avielle Hernandez will grow up without a father in her life.

2 – Aaron Hernandez is likely now in hell.

That’s a harsh sentence to write, but as a Christian, it’s what I’m forced to believe. Someone in prison may have been able to reach him with the Gospel but by all accounts, that’s simply not the case here. My worldview through the lens of the Bible tells me anyone who dies without first asking for repentance of their sins and giving their life to Jesus will go to hell. I wish I could sugar coat that and make it sound less horrible but I can’t.

The reality of hell is something I wouldn’t wish on the worst person in the world. Hernandez taking his life removed the chance of the Gospel penetrating whatever had been causing him to do what he’d done. I promise I’m not trying to be holier than thou with that last statement either. This shift in perspective over the past couple of years has really impacted how I look at situations like this. Our natural bent is to write him off and say he deserved it — I totally get that view point — but the reality is he will now spend the rest of eternity in hell. That’s a tragedy.

3 – A human lost their life.

Death has become too common in our world. We are numb to the idea that death is horrible. When the world was created, death wasn’t a part of it. It was only after sin entered the world that death became our punishment. While Hernandez was a horrible person from all accounts, it’s still a tragedy whenever someone so young (27-years-old) loses their life. The rest of his life may have been spent in prison, but we don’t know the impact he could’ve had on the people around him had he stayed alive. Maybe I’m an eternal optimist on this subject, but I can only imagine what someone of his stature could do if transformed by the Gospel, even from inside a federal prison. Especially from inside a federal prison.

I get that it’s easy to feel like this convicted murderer got what he deserved. But if we take a step back, remove our emotions, and look at this through the lens of the Gospel, what happened in that prison cell in Shirley, Massachusetts was a tragedy.

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