Ever since Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell in 2017, questions have arisen about his relationship with former fiancée Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez. Days before he died, allegations arose that Hernandez had multiple relationships with men.
But a source close to Hernandez tells PEOPLE that Jenkins-Hernandez was the love of Hernandez’s life.
“Aaron was attracted to men, but the relationship that he had with her was 100 per cent genuine,” says the source. “He loved her, and thought of her as his soulmate.”
Hernandez and Jenkins-Hernandez were together for several years before his legal troubles. Hernandez, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, was arrested in 2013 for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a man dating Jenkins-Hernandez’s sister. As he awaited trial, he was charged in connection with the fatal drive-by shootings of Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and Safiro Teixeira Furtado.
He was convicted of Lloyd’s murder and sentenced to life in prison; he was acquitted of the double homicide in April 2017 but days later was found dead in his prison cell after hanging himself with a bedsheet. He was 27.
The former football player is the father of Jenkins-Hernandez’s eldest daughter, Avielle, whom they welcomed in 2012. In November of that year, the two also became engaged, although they never married.
Discussion of Hernandez’s sexuality has been a big part of a new Netflix documentary, Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, that debuted last week. While Jenkins-Hernandez, 30, has not explicitly addressed the three-part docuseries, she shared an inspirational quote on Instagram on the day the documentary began streaming.
“Never forget how far you’ve come,” the quote read. “Everything you have gotten through. All the times you have pushed on even when you felt you couldn’t. All the mornings you got out of bed no matter how hard it was. All the times you wanted to give up but you got through another day. Never forget how much strength you have developed along the way.”
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Although Jenkins-Hernandez has previously said she was unaware of Hernandez’s sexuality, the source close to him believes she knew he was attracted to men but nonetheless remained devoted to him.
“She was aware of his attraction to men, and it didn’t matter to her,” says the source. “They were not a threat to her. What [Hernandez and Jenkins-Hernandez] had was very strong and very genuine. Everything else was just recreational for him. Everyone else meant nothing.￼￼”
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez is now streaming on Netflix.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.