As the name Aaron Hernandez first found its way into the national spotlight, the high school football star seemed to have it all.
The supportive father who helped him reach incredible heights on the field. The natural talent, confidence, and drive. The high school sweetheart. The good looks.
But already a young Hernandez was tangled in a secret life, one that would slowly reveal itself as he found himself consumed by demons past and present.
Hernandez, family members have now revealed to the Boston Globe, was molested as a young child.
Years later, as a rising football star in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut, Hernandez found himself in a secret sexual relationship with a teammate.
Dennis SanSoucie (right), Aaron Hernandez's secret gay lover from middle school and high school, is speaking out for the first time
Family members have also since revealed that Hernandez was molested as a young child. He is pictured here in a 2007 yearbook photo
On the field, Hernandez and Dennis SanSoucie worked in perfect harmony for Bristol Central High School's football team.
Hernandez shined as a pass receiver with SanSoucie, the Bristol Rams' quarterback. In the first four games of their junior year, the pair had nine touchdown completions.
That year alone Hernandez would catch 67 passes for a total of 1,807 yards, smashing state records and catching the attention of top college recruiters across the country.
But off the field he was developing a connection with SanSoucie that went far deeper than sport.
The pair first began exploring a sexual relationship in middle school, which SanSoucie revealed continued into high school - even as Hernandez began to date Shayanna Jenkins, who would later become his fiancee and mother of his child.
'Me and him were very much into trying to hide what we were doing,' SanSoucie, who later joined the US Marines, told the Globe. 'We didn't want people to know.'
That was partially due to their traditional community, but also in large part due to Hernandez's own home.
Hernandez (pictured in 2007) shined as a pass receiver with SanSoucie, the team quarterback. In the first four games of their junior year, the pair had nine touchdown completions
The pair first began exploring a sexual relationship in middle school, which SanSoucie revealed continued into high school. Hernandez is pictured here in 2007
To outside observers, Hernandez's father Dennis was the ultimate supportive dad.
When he suddenly died at the age of 49, during his younger son's junior year, many believed it crushed Hernandez and marked the beginning of his downfall.
But family members have since revealed that Dennis ran a home where homophobia was rampant and abuse was the ultimate motivational tool.
Jonathan Hernandez, the NFL star's older brother, said Dennis long had concerns that Hernandez 'had a feminine way about him'.
He closely watched at how his youngest son 'stood or used his hands'. And he became enraged when a young Hernandez expressed interest in cheerleading.
'He wanted to be a cheerleader. My cousins were cheerleaders and amazing,' Jonathan, 32, recalled.
'And I remember coming home and my dad put an end to that real quick. And it was not okay. My dad made it clear that he had his definition of a man.'
Dennis also frequently threw around the term f****t, which Jonathan said he used 'all the time'.
'Me and him were very much into trying to hide what we were doing,' SanSoucie, who later joined the US Marines, told the Globe.