BOSTON — As former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez sits in a private cell for his protection, a portrait is emerging of a man whose life away from the field included brushes with violence that started as long ago as his freshman year at the University of Florida.
Details of a series of altercations and gun incidents linked to the Pro Bowler have surfaced since Hernandez was arrested June 26 in the death of a semi-pro football player who was dating the sister of his fiancee.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, whose body was found June 17 about a mile from the defendant's mansion in North Attleborough, Mass.
The athlete's defense team has called the district attorney's case circumstantial and has said Hernandez looks forward to clearing his name.
But even before the 23-year-old's murder recent arrest, public records and interviews show he was no stranger to talking to police, first in Florida and then in the Boston area.
A sworn court complaint from Florida's Eighth Judicial Circuit details Hernandez's apparent involvement in a May 2007 fight at a restaurant called The Swamp in Gainesville, Fla. The partially redacted document says the waiter told police that Hernandez, who was then 17, punched him in the head while he was escorting the subject out of the business after a dispute about an alleged non-payment of a bill.
The waiter suffered a burst eardrum in the altercation.
Tim Tebow, now a member of Patriots and at the time Florida's star quarterback, is listed as a witness on report, which classifies the offense as "felony battery." It wasn't clear Tuesday how the case was settled.
It said Tebow's involvement came after Hernandez called him over to try to intervene in a verbal altercation before the assault.