Friday, July 22, 2011

Ryan 'Willie Mays' Hayes: Til' We Meet Again...

Ryan Richard Hayes-Miss ya buddy.

This past week, I received the sad news that one of my best friends from my childhood passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. So many things run through the mind when something tragic like this happens. My first thoughts turned to his parents, especially his dad Sean. Ryan is the light of Sean's life. He was his pride and joy. My heart goes out to his family and friends, and all who have been affected by this great loss. I just wanted to share a few of my memories of my brother from another mother, Ryan Hayes.

I have seen many Facebook posts and the like talking of how great of an athlete Ryan was. Saying that he was a great athlete is an understatement. He was one of the best to ever come out of Sandy, Utah. He was the game changer in many of our football games. A great memory I have is from our Alta Hawks days years and years ago. We were getting pummeled, and we could not get the ball moving down the field. Running the ball was our bread and butter, because Ryan was our half back. We stuck to the running game, but could not get the ball in the end zone. Ryan was so frustrated after a few attempts of getting to the line of scrimmage and then being tackled by a swarm of defensive players. He came back to the huddle and looked at me and started yelling "I can't do this all myself! Open the hole!!!". I was ticked off at first, but I then realized what he was saying. He was a great athlete, but he still needed the team (specifically us fat lineman) to block for him so he could have a chance to get the ball rolling. He got us fired up, and then we got that ball rolling. McDougal and I opened up a hole, and after he got a few yards pass the line of scrimmage, it was the 'Willie Mays' Hayes show. He darted off, made a few cuts, broke some tackles, and we were able to score and get on the board. Even though he was a phenomenal athlete, he understood that there is no 'I' in 'Team'. He built up his fellow team mates and was a leader that we all looked up to.

A few years later in life, Ryan, myself and my friend Josh were going through some pretty tough common family troubles. I will never forget the help that he gave me. He was always there, willing to help out in any way he could. Whether it was a phone call to go and hang out (and by hang out I mean chase the girlies), or just an invite to go and eat some grub with him and his Dad, Ry was always reaching out to try and help me. He had such giving heart. He would always ask me if I was doing OK. He worried about his friends and he wanted to see them happy and smiling. That was one of the things he did best. He could get the room laughing in no time. He helped me to get through that difficult phase of my life, and for that I will be forever grateful.

I remember seeing him just before I left to come out here on my mission. He looked so good. He looked better than I had seen him in years. He had so much life in his eyes. I told him I was coming on a mission, and he reacted in a way I didn't expect, although I should have. First off, Ryan was not a member of my church. While growing up, he and I actually made fun of the "Mormons" a lot. I thought he was going to crack the same old jokes and give me a hard time. After I told him what I was doing, he looked me in the eye and said, "I'm so happy for you man. Your going to be great out there. Don't forget me while your gone." I let him know that I would be praying for him and that I would see him when I got back.

  I have thought of him often while I have been out here. I was looking forward to the day when I would get off my mission and be able to see him. Now, I am going to have to wait for a little while to make that promise come true. I know that I will see him again. I know that with all my heart. I know that God loves him, and is taking care of him right now. I won't forget Ryan and the incredible person he is. I won't forget the love, respect, friendship, kindness, laughter, and hope he shared with me.

I love ya Ryan. I'll see you again someday. My life is better because of the friendship we shared.


  1. Ryan was definitly a Christ like man. You can tell he was a true friend. I hope to be one like him. Loving and caring through out my life.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. Ryan was my cousin and we miss him dearly. This was lovely to read.

  3. This was so great to read. My brother and Ryan would pick me up after Alta practices, and I always threw a fit because they smelled like two-a-days! I'd suffocate with their pads in the back, but always got excited for the big sweaty hug Ryan forced on me.

  4. That was beautiful Jord! Ry will be missed by everyone who ever knew him. He touched so many lives! Love you and hope you are doing okay.