Aaron Hernandez
via Jeffrey Beall / CC-BY-3.0

Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez is dead, after hanging himself inside his prison cell early Wednesday (April 19), said Massachusetts prison officials. He was just 27 years old.

Prison guards found Hernandez unresponsive in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley shortly after 3 a.m. He was pronounced dead an hour later.

Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit at the prison. He had hung himself with a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window.

At press time, officials said they were not aware of any suicide note written by Hernandez. Furthermore, officials said Hernandez did not seem suicidal, because if so, he would’ve been transferred to a mental health unit.

“The family and legal team is shocked and surprised at the news of Aaron’s death,” Hernandez’s lawyer Jose Baez said in a statement. “There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible. Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence. Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death. We request that authorities conduct a transparent and thorough investigation.

“The Baez Law Firm will participate in its own examination into this tragic event and update the media and public on its findings when they become available.”

Hernandez was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, after being convicted of the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of his fiancée Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez.

He was also tried but acquitted in the slayings of two men at a Boston nightclub, over a spilled drink. The jury in that case found Hernandez not guilty of first-degree murder, but convicted him of unlawful possession of a gun, and the judge sentenced him to an additional four to five years in prison.