Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/8/12
Aaron Hernandez just turned 23 on Tuesday. Three seasons into his NFL career and the talented tight end is still one of the youngest players on the Patriots. While his youth should continue to show on the field, Hernandez knows it’s time to grow up. Hernandez’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, Avielle Janelle, on Tuesday, a gift Hernandez called “the best birthday gift you could have.” A humbled Hernandez glowed about the new addition to his family after practice on Thursday, even referring to his newborn daughter as “life changing.” “I’m feeling pretty good, and I’m happy. Definitely a life changer,” Hernandez said with an uncontrollable smile. “Every time I come [from] the stadium, I can’t wait to go see her, and she’s a cutie. And basically I can’t wait to go back and look at my daughter.” Hernandez’s excitement is a feeling shared by many parents at the sight of their new children. But even at 23, Hernandez understands his days of failed drug tests — which he admitted to while at the University of Florida — and irresponsible behavior is through. “One thing I know is that it definitely changed my life. I’m going to look at things differently, and I may be the young and wild. But I’m not. The addition of a child has altered Hernandez’s entire outlook on life, and apparently provided him with a much more narrow perspective of himself. A viewpoint that has him considering every decision he makes. “I’m engaged now, and I have a baby. So, it’s just gonna make me think of life a lot differently and doing things the right way,” Hernandez added. “Now, another one is looking up to me. I can’t just be young and reckless Aaron no more. I’m gonna try to do the right things, become a good father and [her] be raised like I was raised.” A visibly humbled Hernandez reflected on all the successes and triumphs of his life and simply smiled saying, ” I honestly couldn’t ask for my life to be better at this point.” As for his health, Hernandez was back at practice again on Thursday, although limited. But barring any setbacks, he should be able to bring that joy and excitement out on the field come Sunday. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here. 
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