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Former Florida State and NFL linebacker Geno Hayes died at the age of 33 after a battle with liver disease, according to multiple reports.
The Tallahassee’s CBS affiliate, WCTV, and the Tallahassee Democrat first reported Hayes’ death late Monday.
According to WCTV, “Hayes was suffering from Stage 3 liver disease and was moved into hospice in Valdosta [Georgia] last week.”
Hayes, a native of Greenville played at Madison County High before heading to nearby FSU. With the Seminoles, he was second on the team with 94 tackles in his junior season, which led to him opting for the NFL Draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked him in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, where he would replace former Seminole and future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks at weak-side linebacker.
Hayes played seven NFL seasons with the Bucs, Bears and Jaguars, tallying 401 tackles, 10 sacks, six forced fumbles, six interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
Hayes was diagnosed with liver disease two years ago and was on a waiting list for a transplant at the Mayo Clinic and Northwestern Medicine, according to an interview Hayes had with ESPN earlier this year.
Hayes told ESPN earlier this year that he believed over-the-counter pain medications he took while playing as well as his family history of liver disease was the culprit.
“He was a good one, a linebacker who could run. Everyone was looking for that speed,” FSU coach Bobby Bowden, 91, told the Tallahassee Democrat on Tuesday.
According to the outlet, Hayes was under hospice care at his parents home in Valdosta, Georgia, and is also survived by his wife Shevelle and their two children, ages 13 and 8.