A headshake and a shrug.
That was my reaction upon hearing Aaron Hernandez hung himself with a bedsheet in his barricaded jail cell.
A man who could have done so much good with the blessings he was given -- athletic ability, intelligence, charm, a family that truly loved him -- instead actively chose a life that landed him in jail when he had every other option in the world available to him. And he killed a guy. And, despite last week's not-guilty verdict, was at the very least a party to the murder of two others.
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I don't know that I ever heard him breathe a word of condolence. I saw him defiantly spit in the shrubs of his North Attleboro home on June 27, 2013 when he was led in cuffs and into a life of permanent confinement. I saw him cry for himself in court.
But he cried and mourned the loss of his freedom, not the choices that led to that. Choices that dated back to his time at the University of Florida. He wasn't just a convict but a con man. Two months after the South End shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado -- an event at which Hernandez was at the very least present -- he signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots and kicked back $50,000 to Robert Kraft and the Kraft's charitable foundation.
New England Patriots
"Now I'm able to basically have a good chance to be set for life, and have a good life," Hernandez said at the time. "I have a daughter on the way, I have a family that I love. It's just knowing that they're going to be okay. Because I was happy playing for my two hundred fifty, four hundred thousand [dollar salary]. Knowing that my kids and my family will be able to have a good life, go to college, it's just an honor that he did that for me. He gave me this opportunity. The $50,000 to help his foundation, obviously, is basically like saying 'thank you' and its means a lot to me.
"He didn't need to give me the amount that he gave me, and knowing that he thinks I deserve that, he trusts me to make the right decisions, it means a lot. It means he trusts my character, and the person I am, which means a lot, cause my mother, that's how she wanted to raise me. They have to trust you to give you that money. I just feel a lot of respect and I owe it back to him. Not only is it $50,000, cause that's not really, that's just the money that really doesn't mean much, with the amount given, it's more, I have a lot more to give back, and all I can do is play my heart out for them, make the right decisions, and live life as a Patriot."
And within a year he took Odin Lloyd to an industrial park and killed him.
I feel sympathy for the mother, brother and daughter Hernandez leaves behind. I feel for his friends who had the character to love the sinner and hate the sins and not turn their backs on him. They will all live with the grief caused by the life and death of Aaron Hernandez.
Meanwhile, the true regret the friends and family of Lloyd, Furtado and de Abreu may feel today is that Aaron Hernandez ever lived.
Every day, people wracked by depression, illness, loss of family or purpose and inexorable sadness will consider an escape from the pain through suicide. Most will keep living anyway, hoping for a light they can't see. Living if not for themselves, then for the people around them. Others won't. A lot of them will feel as if they had no other choice. You mourn them and cry for the people who love them.
It's sad that Aaron Hernandez is dead. Even while serving life in prison, there was good he could have done for society if he chose to. He opted out. It's hard to feel specifically sad for him.