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In 2012 the pair welcomed their daughter Avielle Janelle - now four - and got engaged.
Hernandez called his child's birth a 'life changer'.
It seemed the happy result of a childhood emphasis on hard work and responsible living - but the death of his supportive father seemed to send Hernandez down a darker, more dangerous path.
Back in 2010, University of Florida star Aaron Hernandez was lauded as 'unquestionably one of the best receiving tight ends' ahead of that year's NFL draft.
The tight end had broken almost every record as a football player for Bristol Central High School; his yearbook quote was: 'If it's to be, it's up to me'.
He immensely looked up to his father Dennis, a school custodian and highly sociable character - a trait Hernandez inherited.
According to family and Hernandez himself, Meyer became a father figure and soon settled the star into his new surroundings He also found stability in his long-term girlfriend, Shayanna Jenkins, whom had known since middle school.
They dated off and on through high school and throughout college - and were together ultimately until his death.
He pleaded not guilty but the Patriots released him within hours.He was given the number 81 jersey in 2011 and scored a touchdown at the 2012 Super Bowl that the Patriots ultimately lost to the Giants.