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Former NFL linebacker Geno Hayes is reported to be in hospice care in South Georgia after complications from liver disease.
The Tallahassee Democrat reports the 33-year-old is spending his last days at his mother’s home in Valdosta.
“Geno’s in need of prayers. He’s fighting for his life,” Hayes’ former high school coach, Frankie Carroll, told the newspaper. “It’s tough.”
Prior to entering a hospital last month, Hayes told ESPN’s Jenna Laine that he had been placed on a waiting list for a liver transplant at the Mayo Clinic and Northwestern Medicine in December after being hospitalized over 20 times during the past year.
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“The first diagnosis they gave me was alcoholic cirrhosis,” Hayes said. “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.'”
“I went from 220 [pounds] to 150,” he added. “That was when I was first diagnosed.
Hayes said he was diagnosed after losing 70 pounds and that his use of over-the-counter pain medications during his time playing in the league, as well as his family’s history of liver disease, ultimately led to his condition.
Hayes played for Florida State prior to being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He then signed with the Chicago Bears in 2012 and last played for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014.
Hayes is the father of two children, aged 13 and 8. He told ESPN he just wants to help people while he’s in hospice care.
“I’m enjoying life, I’m spending more time with my kids and I really want to help people,” he said, adding. “My main goal is to just inspire, to inspire the next person, no matter what they’re going through, no matter what 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.”