Former Raiders Star D.J. Hayden: A Tragic End to a Heroic Journey

In the early hours of Saturday morning, tragedy struck the football world as former Oakland Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden, along with five others, lost their lives in a devastating car crash in Houston.

This heart-wrenching incident has left the sports community in mourning, reflecting on the indelible impact these athletes made both on and off the field.

D.J. Hayden
D.J. Hayden (Image source: Twitter)

The Fatal Crash

The incident occurred when a Chrysler 300, reportedly speeding and running a red light, collided with an Acura SUV. The collision resulted in the immediate death of four individuals, with four others rushed to the hospital.

Unfortunately, two of the hospitalized victims later succumbed to their injuries, while a woman faced life-threatening conditions.

A Team Shattered

Among the victims were Hayden’s former teammates from the University of Houston, Zachary McMillian, and Ralph Oragwu.

Another former teammate, Jeffrey Lewis, survived but sustained injuries in the crash. The University of Houston expressed its grief, emphasizing the profound impact these individuals had on the community and the football program.

Hayden’s Football Journey

D.J. Hayden, a first-round pick by the Raiders in 2013, played a pivotal role in the team for four seasons.

His courage, perseverance, and dedication to his teammates were lauded by the Raiders in a statement following the tragic news. Despite a career marked by injuries and challenges, Hayden’s passion for the game and his team never wavered.

Overcoming Adversity

Hayden’s journey to the NFL was marked by adversity. In a shocking turn of events in 2012, he suffered a life-threatening injury during a practice at the University of Houston.

A teammate’s knee collided with his chest, causing a tear in his vena cava—the vein responsible for carrying blood to the heart. Miraculously, prompt medical intervention saved his life, defying a 95 percent fatality rate associated with such injuries.

A Story of Resilience

Hayden’s recovery and subsequent achievements showcased his resilience and determination. Although he missed the remainder of the 2012 season, he made a triumphant return at Houston’s pro day, running an impressive 4.33-second 40-yard dash.

The Raiders, moved by both his performance and character, selected him in the first round of the draft.

A Final Tribute

As the football world mourns the loss of these talented individuals, their legacies extend beyond the game. Their impact on teammates, communities, and their ability to defy the odds will forever be remembered. In this time of sorrow, the University of Houston’s heartfelt condolences go out to the families and loved ones affected.


  1. What caused the fatal car crash in Houston? The crash occurred when a speeding Chrysler 300 ran a red light and collided with an Acura SUV.
  2. How did D.J. Hayden’s injury in 2012 shape his career? Hayden’s life-threatening injury in 2012, a tear in his vena cava, showcased his resilience and determination, leading to a successful NFL career.
  3. What teams did D.J. Hayden play for in the NFL? Hayden played for the Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Washington Commanders during his nine-year career.
  4. How did Hayden’s former teammates Zachary McMillian and Ralph Oragwu contribute to the University of Houston football program? McMillian had 10 interceptions over the 2012 and 2013 seasons, while Oragwu played a significant role from 2009-13 before transferring to Marshall.
  5. What is the University of Houston’s response to the tragedy? The University of Houston expressed deep sorrow over the loss, emphasizing the impact these individuals had on the football program and the community.

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