STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
On the very day that the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots visit the White House, the team is absorbing tragic news. Former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez has committed suicide in a prison cell in Massachusetts. The Pro Bowl tight end was jailed for a 2013 murder. We're going to talk about this with sports reporter Shira Springer at our member station WBUR. Hi, Shira.
SHIRA SPRINGER, BYLINE: Hi.
INSKEEP: What are the details? What happened?
SPRINGER: Well, the details are that Aaron Hernandez was found hanging in his cell this morning. He used a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window. He tried to prevent prison staff from getting into the cell by taking various items and blocking his door. He was transferred to a local hospital and then pronounced dead around 4:07 a.m.
INSKEEP: Since it's been a few years, some people will not remember. What was the crime for which he was imprisoned?
SPRINGER: He was serving a life sentence without parole for murdering his friend, Odin Lloyd. And this - sort of the irony of this - of the suicide today is this comes five days after he was acquitted of murdering two men who were not friends of his, who were strangers.
So, you know, the original conviction was part of this long legal journey that Hernandez was on and that many thought would continue with appeals potentially of the original murder conviction.
INSKEEP: Is there any early clue as to why he would have ended his own life?
SPRINGER: No early clues, the actual crime - the actual suicide is still being investigated. It's worth noting that after his recent acquittal in court - the acquittal of murdering the two strangers - he was particularly emotional. He was seen crying at the defense table. And, you know, I think the early thinking is that he was just - this whole legal journey has all come to a head.
And it was just taking an emotional toll on him. And I think some of the things that were going on - I think, you know, you - people making comments, Bill Belichick making comments about how tragic his situation was. And I think he probably took this all in. It was just becoming too much.
INSKEEP: Well, Shira, thanks very much, really appreciate your time.
SPRINGER: Thank you.
INSKEEP: Shira Springer at member station WBUR giving us the news that former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez has been found dead in a jail cell today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.