Former NFL linebacker and Florida State star Geno Hayes died Monday evening from liver disease, the Buccaneers confirmed Tuesday.
Hayes was 33.
“Thoughts and prayer for the family and friends of Geno Hayes,” head coach Mike Norvell said in a tweet. “He lived his life as a tremendous Seminole who impacted so many throughout his journey on and off the field. His legacy will live on.”
“It’s one of those things where you have to make sure you tell them you love them,” Hayes’s high school coach Frankie Carroll told the Tallahassee Democrat after being informed of Hayes’s death.
Hayes had been in hospice care at his parents’ home in Georgia prior to Monday night. He told ESPN’s Jenna Laine in March that he had been placed on a waiting list for a liver transplant in December after being hospitalized over 20 times in the past year.
“The first diagnosis they gave me was alcoholic cirrhosis,” Hayes told ESPN. “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.'”
“I went from 220 [pounds] to 150,” Hayes said. “That was when I was first diagnosed.”
Hayes joined Florida State in 2005 as a defensive lineman before eventually moving to linebacker. During his junior season at FSU, he was named an All-American, finishing the year second on the team in total tackles (94) and first in tackles for loss (17.5).
Hayes was a sixth-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2008. He started 42 games in four seasons with the franchise. He later spent the 2012 season with the Bears before starting starting 25 games for the Jaguars.