The National Football League is mourning the loss of one of its distinguished former players, D.J. Hayden, who was involved in a fatal traffic accident in Houston on November 11. Hayden, who was 33 years old, carved out a respected nine-season career in the NFL after being drafted in the first round by the Oakland Raiders.
The tragic event unfolded in the early hours when a speeding Chrysler 300 ran a red light and collided with an Acura SUV, according to the Houston Chronicle. The crash claimed the lives of Hayden, fellow ex-University of Houston players Zach McMillan, 32, Ralph Oragwu, 31, and two other individuals, one of whom was reportedly homeless.
The collision also injured Jeffery Lewis, another University of Houston alumnus, and a female passenger, both of whom are currently receiving medical care, with the woman facing critical injuries.
Houston Athletes Remembered
The loss of these former athletes has sent shockwaves through the University of Houston, where Hayden played as a defensive back in 2011 and 2012.
The university issued a heartfelt statement expressing profound sorrow and extending thoughts and prayers to Lewis for his recovery. They commemorated the trio for leaving a lasting influence on and off the field, emphasizing their community involvement and the love they shared with teammates.
Derek Sherrard "D.J." Hayden, Jr., born in Missouri City, Texas, overcame a near-fatal injury in 2012 that required emergency heart surgery. This brush with mortality only underscored his resilience and determination, which he carried into his professional career.
The Raiders secured Hayden's talents as the 12th overall pick in the 2013 draft, where he played as a cornerback for four years before stints with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and finally, the Washington Commanders.
Hayden's story is not just one of athletic prowess but also of human spirit and determination. His legacy is not solely recorded in the sports archives but also in the hearts of those he inspired. As the NFL community comes together to grieve, they also celebrate the lives of these men who transcended the sport they loved.
Hayden is survived by his parents, Tori and Derek Hayden, who, along with countless fans and friends, remember him for his passion, tenacity, and the courage he demonstrated both on the gridiron and in life. As the investigation into the crash continues, the memory of D.J.
Hayden will undoubtedly serve as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the strength found in community and kinship.