Wednesday marked two years since Jimmy, a veteran of 334 NHL games, passed away from acute intoxication via the combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine. He was 31 years old.
"If pills can take my brother, they can take anyone,” Kevin wrote.
Kevin noted that opioid addiction “has probably touched most families in America.” According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 106,699 Americans died of drug-involved overdoses in 2021.
The Hayes family itself was no stranger to addiction prior to Jimmy’s death. Kevin Hayes Sr., the family patriarch, revealed to the Boston Globe after Jimmy's toxicology reports were made public that he is a recovering addict himself.
Kevin Jr. continues to carry the pain of his brother's passing with him, and time will never fully heal that wound.
“It hurts so bad some days that I can barely take it,” Kevin wrote of his grief. “That’s just the truth. It sucks. It sucks to talk about. It sucks to remember. It sucks to know that I’m never going to be able to hear another one of his stories.”
Despite how difficult it is talking about his late brother, Kevin says he’ll continue to do it if it means he can spare one family the pain his own has endured.
“You were the best. You were everybody’s hero. We will never stop telling your story,” Kevin wrote.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 31, 2021
In the first-person article, Kevin detailed the close bond he shared with his brother, who was also his teammate at Boston College during the 2010-11 season. Kevin detailed how Jimmy — who he called “the Dorchester Batman” — was renowned as a caring and kind soul that always looked out for others. Jimmy was, according to Kevin, “the glue that held everything together.”
The younger Hayes brother spoke of how Jimmy, who played for his hometown Boston Bruins during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, was idolized in Dorchester, Mass., and by the hockey community as a whole.
Several NHL players also shared unique tributes to Jimmy in the days following his sudden death.