Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida State University linebacker Geno Hayes has tragically passed away at the criminally young age of 33. Hayes was previously in hospice care and fighting for his life due to suffering from chronic liver disease.
Hayes, a native of Greenville, Florida, and well-regarded football star in the state was at his parents’ house in Valdosta, Georgia where he was being treated for liver complications. He had been on the waiting list for a liver transplant to treat the disease that runs in his family and was hospitalized over 20 times in the last year. Hayes, who described by his former high school football coach Frankie Carroll as a “fun-loving guy”. Hayes used that fun-loving spirit up until the end, and never lost his optimism that a liver would eventually come.
Hayes was also a hard worker. He didn’t have to move far when the Buccaneers selected him in the sixth round (175th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. Hayes, who described by his former high school football coach Frankie Carroll as a “fun-loving guy”, was also a hard worker. Using the chip on his shoulder from being a sixth-round pick, worked his way into the starting lineup by his second season with the Buccaneers in 2009 until his final season in Tampa in 2011. Hayes would be the heir apparent to Derrick Brooks in the starting lineup.
Hayes would record 257 tackles (37 for a loss), seven sacks, four interceptions, five forced fumbles with a fumble recovery, and a touchdown while playing for the Buccaneers.
He would go on to spend the last three years of his career with the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars before becoming a free agent and eventually retiring after the 2014 season. He finished his career in the NFL with 401 total tackles, 10 sacks, six forced fumbles, and six interceptions.
Hayes is survived by his wife Shevelle and their two children.