A former Oakland Raider and NFL first-round draft pick is one of six people who died in a car crash in Houston, Texas, according to multiple reports.
D.J. Hayden, a Houston native, played cornerback for the University of Houston before being drafted 12th overall by the Raiders in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Among the deceased was another former University of Houston cornerback and one-time college teammate Zach McMillian.
Both Hayden and McMillian were named to the University of Houston’s All-Decade team for the 2010s. The former was also a two-time All-Conference-USA selection.
During his nine-year professional career, which was almost abruptly ended due to a near-fatal heart injury suffered during a college practice, Hayden spent four years with the Raiders in Oakland before signing for the Detroit Lions in 2017 and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018, for whom he played until 2020.
He made his final NFL appearance for the Washington Commanders in 2021.
The Raiders, who have since relocated to Las Vegas, released a statement regarding Hayden’s passing on Saturday afternoon:
“The Raiders family is mourning the tragic loss of former cornerback D.J. Hayden. The Raiders’ first-round draft pick out of the University of Houston in 2013, D.J. overcame a heart injury sustained in a college practice to play nine years in the NFL, including his first four with the Silver and Black. D.J.’s courage, perseverance and dedication to his teammates will be fondly remembered by everyone who knew him. The prayers of the entire Raider Nation are with D.J.’s loved ones at this time.”
In 92 games, Hayden recorded 328 combined tackles, 46 pass breakups and four interceptions.