Family and friends of Aaron Hernandez said their farewells to the former NFL player during a private funeral in his hometown on Monday afternoon.
Hernandez's fiancée, his 4-year-old daughter, his mother and brother and defense attorney Jose Baez were among those who turned out for the invitation-only service in Bristol, Connecticut. Also in attendance were NFL players Mike and Maurkice Pouncey and Brandon Spikes, who played with Hernandez at the University of Florida.
The former New England Patriots tight end was found hanged in his cell in a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts last Wednesday. About 50 mourners gathered for his funeral.
At the funeral home, two men in suits checked IDs as guests drove up the driveway. Police closed a street outside to traffic, and television news crews were stationed in a lot across the street. At one point, Hernandez's mother, Terri Hernandez, stepped out ahead of the service to smoke a cigarette on the funeral home's front porch.
Maggie Amaya, of Bristol, was turned away from the service because she did not have an invitation. She said her nephew was a friend of Hernandez's at Bristol Central High School. She and other Bristol residents said they were disappointed there wasn't a public service.
"We love this kid regardless of what happened," Amaya said. "I'd just rather remember the kid who represented the Patriots."
After the funeral, Hernandez's lawyer, Ronald Sullivan, briefly addressed the media on behalf of the family.
"The family of Aaron Hernandez wishes to thank the public for its thoughtful expressions of condolences," he said. "The family wishes to say goodbye to Aaron in privacy. They thank everyone in advance for affording them some measure of privacy during this difficult time. They love him and they miss him."
The burial will be private at an undisclosed location, and the timing of that was unclear.
Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee, and he had just been acquitted of murder charges in the shooting deaths of two men in Boston in 2012. Hernandez's death was ruled a suicide.
After the Massachusetts medical examiner ruled the death a suicide, Hernandez's brain was taken to Boston University, where scientists will study it for any signs of repeated trauma suffered during his years of playing football.
A judge on Friday ordered key evidence in the prison suicide preserved, granting a request from Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, Hernandez's fiancée, so the family can investigate the circumstances of his death.