Former NFL linebacker Geno Hayes has died at the age of 33 following a two-year battle with liver disease.
Hayes was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 175 overall in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft following a stellar collegiate career at Florida State University. The Buccaneers announced Hayes' death on their verified social media accounts on Tuesday (April 27) morning.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of Geno Hayes' passing," the Bucs said in a statement Tuesday. "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."
ESPN reports Hayes was diagnosed with liver disease two years ago and placed on a waiting list at the Mayo Clinic and Northwestern Medicine for a liver transplant in December. The Valdosta, Georgia native had reportedly been hospitalized more than 20 times during the past year but remained optimistic about getting a new liver.
Hayes spent his first four seasons with the Buccaneers and made 70 starts in 101 appearances for the franchise. The former linebacker also played for the Chicago Bears in 2012 and the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2013-14.
Hayes finished his NFL career with 401 tackles, 48 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, six forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.