Geno Hayes, Former NFL Linebacker, Dies at 33 After Battling Liver Disease

by Madison Miller
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Geno Hayes, a former NFL linebacker, has unfortunately passed away from liver disease on Monday evening (April 26). He was only 33.

Hayes was known for playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL and Florida State in college.

According to an interview with ESPN from earlier this year, Hayes disclosed that he developed a chronic liver disease a few years prior. He had been on the waiting list for a transplant at the Mayo Clinic and Northwestern Medicine. Hayes had been hospitalized more than 20 times in the past year.

A few days before his death, Hayes was placed in hospice care at his parent’s house in Georgia. Hayes had said that he thought the over-the-counter medication he took while in the NFL, combined with a family history of liver disease, led to his deadly condition. He never took more than what was directed on the bottle of these pain medications.

“The first diagnosis they gave me was alcoholic cirrhosis. But when we dug in deeper, it became just chronic liver disease, because I don’t drink like that. If I did drink, it was just like wine or something like that. But my body is made different. And that’s what [my doctor] said — ‘Everybody’s made different,'” Hayes said to ESPN.

When he was first diagnosed, he had gone from 220 pounds to 150 pounds.

According to Tallahassee Democrat, Geno Hayes signed with FSU back in 2005. At the time he was one of the top linebackers in the nation. “He was a good one, a linebacker who could run. Everyone was looking for that speed,” FSU coach Bobby Bowden said.

Geno Hayes’ Football Career and Personal Life

Hayes started his career with three seasons at FSU. Then he was the sixth-round selection for the Buccaneers in 2008. He played seven seasons in the NFL. Hayes had also played for the Chicago Bears and the Jacksonville Jaguars. He spent one year with the Bears and two seasons with the Jaguars. He retired in 2014. His career ended with 401 tackles, 10 sacks, and six forced fumbles.

Hayes leaves behind two children, ages 13 and 8, and also his wife, Shevelle. He opened up about his struggle telling his children about his condition. In fact, Hayes had struggled with severe depression during the beginning of his diagnosis.

“I’m enjoying life, I’m spending more time with my kids and I really want to help people. My main goal is to just inspire, to inspire the next person, no matter what they’re going through, no matter who talks bad about them — family, friends, social media, all of that crap — it don’t matter. You take care of you. Make sure you’re straight. That’s all I want to do,” Hayes told ESPN.

The football world remembers him for his athleticism and talent as a linebacker. He also was always helping out his hometown of Greenville.

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