Geno Hayes, a former NFL linebacker who starred at Florida State, has died. He was 33.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers confirmed his death Tuesday. He had liver disease and had been in hospice care at his parents' home in Valdosta, Georgia.
Hayes spent four seasons with the Bucs, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2008. He then played one year with Chicago and two with Jacksonville.
“Geno was a beloved teammate and often the first player to volunteer his time to our efforts in the community," the Bucs said in a statement. "He frequently visited schools and had a remarkable ability to connect with children. Losing him at such a young age is heartbreaking.”
New York Jets coach Robert Saleh was coaching Jaguars linebackers in 2014 and worked with Hayes.
“I saw Geno’s passion and love for not only football but for life itself," Saleh said in a statement. "He was an amazing person who left a mark on everyone who had the pleasure of connecting with him.”
Hayes started 70 games for his career. He made 401 tackles, 48 for losses. He had 10 sacks, six interceptions and six forced fumbles.
In an interview with ESPN this year, Hayes said he was diagnosed with chronic liver disease two years ago and had been placed on a waiting list for a transplant at the Mayo Clinic and Northwestern Medicine.