Former NFL linebacker Geno Hayes is reportedly in hospice care following liver complications.
Hayes, 33, is currently at his mother’s home in Valdosta, Georgia, his high school coach Frankie Carroll told the Tallahassee Democrat. Carroll says he visited Hayes at the home last Sunday.
“Geno's in need of prayers. He’s fighting for his life,” Carroll said. “It’s tough. Geno’s a fun-loving guy.”
ESPN's Jenna Laine, who spoke with Hayes in March, reported that he went into a months-long depression over his health. He dropped from 220 pounds to 150 and was admitted to the hospital, diagnosed with chronic liver disease. Hayes has been fighting this battle for two years.
"I went into a depression for literally three months ... supreme depression," he told ESPN.
Hayes said he was put on a waiting list for a liver transplant before entering the hospital last month — and he'd been hospitalized more than 20 times in the past year.
Initially, doctors thought Hayes suffered from alcoholic cirrhosis. Hayes told ESPN he was a relatively light drinker and that he suspects years of taking nonprescription pain medications — along with a family history of liver disease — could be the culprit. Hayes said he never took more than what was prescribed on the bottles.
"I didn't do like regular guys do with the Toradol shots ... I just took [NSAIDs]," Hayes said. "I thought it was safer. But once I got out and started doing research, I was like, 'Oh ... my body is not set up for this.'"
Now he says he's trying to let his story be a reminder that people need to enjoy their lives while they have their health.
"I'm enjoying life, I'm spending more time with my kids and I really want to help people," Hayes said. "My main goal is to just inspire, to inspire the next person, no matter what they're going through, no matter who talks bad about them — family, friends, social media, all of that crap — it don't matter. You take care of you. Make sure you're straight. That's all I want to do."
Hayes spent seven years in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars. He was drafted in the sixth round out of Florida State by the Bucs in 2008, replacing Derrick Brooks as Tampa Bay's weakside linebacker.
He last played in the NFL in 2014 with Jacksonville, starting 11 games.
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