Geno Hayes, a linebacker who played seven seasons in the NFL, died at 33 on Monday night.
Frankie Carroll, Hayes’ high school coach in Florida, confirmed the news to The Tallahassee Democrat after talking with Hayes’ family.
“It’s one of those things where you have to make sure you tell them you love them,” Carroll told the paper.
Hayes was under hospice care in his parents Georgia home while battling chronic liver disease.
Hayes starred at Florida State for three seasons before being drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Buccaneers. He emerged as the starting weakside linebacker in his second season in Tampa Bay and spent four years with the team. He then spent one year with the Bears and two with the Jaguars.
Hayes told ESPN.com last month that he was “first diagnosed” when he dropped from 220 to 150 pounds, and that he was on the waiting list for a transplant.
“The first diagnosis they gave me was alcoholic cirrhosis,” Hayes told the website “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.’”