Dennis SanSoucie, who played football with Hernandez at Bristol Central High School in Connecticut, told the series that they had “an on-and-off relationship from the 7th grade to the junior year of high school.”
“When I met Aaron, it was like meeting your twin brother. It was so funny; we were both the same. He has dimples, we’re both ‘cheesy smile,’ all happy. He used to be able to make everyone laugh,” SanSoucie said.
By 11th grade, the two had become “best friends” and even better teammates — with SanSoucie as quarterback and Hernandez as tight end, the duo completed nine touchdowns within the first four games, according to The Boston Globe. Hernandez went on to catch 67 passes for a total of 1,807 yards, which was a Connecticut high school record.
SanSoucie recalled that on the first day of school that year, Hernandez had gone over to his house, where they smoked “two blunts” and “got [his] dog high.”
“We walked right up to the school ... like king s**t. Quarterback, tight end, stone happy … We used to love horseplaying and having fun with each other because we were just kids full of life,” SanSoucie told the series.
SanSoucie said that at the time, there were few people at their school who were “out of the closet,” and they felt compelled to keep their relationship a secret and “hide what we were.”
“I was in such denial … because I was an athlete,” he said. “‘You mean to tell me that the quarterback and the tight end was gay? He sleeps with other men?’ No, it doesn’t sit right with people. It doesn’t sit right within our own stomach at that time.”
After graduation, Hernandez headed south to play for the University of Florida, while SanSoucie joined the U.S. Marines, reported The Boston Globe. Hernandez then became a tight end for the New England Patriots, but his career derailed in 2013 when he was charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins.
He was later found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
During Oxygen’s 2018 documentary special “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered,” Hernandez’s college girlfriend, Alyssa Anderson, told producers the two exchanged letters throughout his time behind bars. In one of his notes, Anderson claimed that Hernandez admitted to being in a relationship with an unidentified man.
“Back in college, there was text messages I saw on his phone when he came back from a trip in Connecticut that was [from] a male, that didn’t have a name, didn’t really say too much. But it was a relationship with somebody,” Anderson said. “And when I questioned him about it, he always denied it. And then, in one of the letters, he opened up about it and he did admit to it.”
It wasn’t until 2017, when Hernandez died by suicide while in prison, that SanSoucie came out to friends and family. SanSoucie said that following Hernandez’s death, rumors began circulating about a supposed relationship he had with a fellow prisoner.
SanSoucie’s father, Tim SanSoucie, didn’t believe the reports that Hernandez could possibly be gay.
“Little did he know that I was part of it, so it was very hard … Aaron had killed himself, and it wasn’t something that I could just come clean on. Months, months later, I broke the news,” Dennis told “Killer Inside.”
Dennis publicly discussed their purported relationship for the first time in a 2018 interview with The Boston Globe’s Spotlight series, in which he said Hernandez would be “proud” that he acknowledged their past.
“I really truly feel in my heart I got the thumbs-up from him,” he told The Boston Globe.
Today, Dennis said he believes Hernandez was not “ashamed of who he was” and that he was “proud of his sexuality.”
“[B]eing bisexual has no difference in being an athlete or just being yourself … It was just, he couldn’t say anything at the time. There was no one in the NFL that ever broke this news,” Dennis told the Netflix series.
"Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez" premieres Jan. 15 on Netflix.
To hear more about Hernandez’s case, stream “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered" now on Oxygen.
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