It’s been exactly two years since Jimmy Hayes died after an accidental drug overdose. His brother, Kevin, recently wrote about his legacy in a moving piece for The Players’ Tribune.
Formatted as a letter Kevin addressed to his late brother, it’s filled with emotions. Though rooted in tragedy, it also includes several humorous anecdotes testament to Jimmy’s heartfelt personality.
The two grew up in Dorchester and played locally before eventually being drafted into the NHL.
Kevin, three years younger than Jimmy, reflected on his brother’s altruistic nature even as kids.
“I’ve never seen a kid who just wanted everybody else to be alright, all the time,” Kevin wrote of his brother. “You could be the biggest nerd in the world (me, for example) and Jimmy would go out of his way to talk to you and make you feel part of the group.”
Calling him a “Dorchester Batman,” Kevin recalled how Jimmy had a special talent for arriving in the right moment just to cheer others up.
Following his older brother’s path both to The Noble and Greenough School as well as Boston College, Kevin cited Jimmy’s inherent ability to watch out for him as a stabilizing force in his life.
“He was just making sure that I was O.K. It’s what he did best.”
But along with recollections of funny moments — including multiple “Call of Duty” video game references — Kevin addressed his brother’s unexpected death.
“Everyone has seen the headlines,” Kevin wrote. “There’s no running from it. Two years ago, my brother died from an accidental overdose of cocaine and fentanyl.”
The reason for writing the piece, Kevin noted, was the hope that sharing the story might help raise awareness about the dangers of opioid addition.
“If pills can take my brother, they can take anyone,” he said.
While he admitted that the pain of his brother’s death will never completely diminish, Kevin underscored the importance of keeping Jimmy alive by talking about him.
“We will never stop telling your story,” he promised.
Even as he admitted that Jimmy’s death still “hurts so bad some days that I can barely take it,” Kevin promised to persevere in the hope of continuing to make others aware of the thing that took his brother’s life.
“I lost my best friend because of a drug that is destroying America,” he wrote. “It’s not just a problem in hockey. It’s a problem everywhere. It’s a problem in Boston, West Virginia, Texas, California, everywhere. It’s a problem with doctors and lawyers and engineers. Opioid addiction has probably touched most families in America at this point, and the only way we can save people is by bringing these stories into the light.”
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