Former Florida State and NFL linebacker Geno Hayes died Monday at 33, two years after he was diagnosed with liver disease.
Hayes played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2008 to 2011 and also had stints with the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars. He notched 401 tackles, 10 sacks, six forced fumbles, six interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns across his seven-year career, during which he made 101 appearances and 70 starts.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of Geno Hayes' passing," the Buccaneers said Tuesday in a statement. "During his time with the Buccaneers, Geno was a beloved teammate and often the first player to volunteer his time to our efforts in the community. He frequently visited schools and had a remarkable ability to connect with children. Losing him at such a young age is heartbreaking. Our thoughts are with his family."
Hayes spent his final days in hospice care at his parents' home in Georgia. He was on a waitlist at the Mayo Clinic and Northwestern Medicine to receive a liver transplant.
"My prayers and thoughts are with Geno Hayes' family and loved ones after his untimely passing," said New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who was Hayes' position coach with the Jaguars in 2014. "Having the opportunity to spend time with him, I saw Geno's passion for life itself. He was an amazing person who left a mark on everyone who had the pleasure of connecting with him."
Hayes enjoyed a standout career at Florida State prior to turning pro, earning an All-ACC selection as a junior in 2007.
He's survived by his wife, Shevelle, and two children, ages 13 and 8, according to the Tallahassee Democrat's Jim Henry.