Jimmy Hayes' Widow Says Fentanyl Overdose 'Does Not Define Him': He 'Touched So Many Lives'

Jimmy Hayes, the 31-year-old former NHL player and father of two, died of acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine

One day after her husband Jimmy Hayes' cause of death was made public, Kristen Hayes is speaking out about how she will remember the former NHL player.

On Sunday, PEOPLE confirmed that Jimmy died of acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine, and his manner of death was determined to be accidental. Days prior, the Norfolk County District Attorney's office confirmed to PEOPLE that no foul play was involved in Jimmy's death.

"Although we are shocked and heartbroken beyond words, I choose to remember my husband, and the boys' father, through the enormous love and joy that he brought us and so many others," Kristen, who shared two sons with her late husband, said in a statement on Monday.

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"This battle does not define him, and I will still tell my boys every day to be like Jimmy. Jimmy touched so many lives while he was here by living so generously and open heartedly, and I hope his story can continue to make a positive impact, especially for anyone who is struggling with the grips of substance abuse," she continued. "I sincerely appreciate all of the support that has been shown to our family and ask for privacy during this extremely difficult time."

Kristen told the Boston Globe she learned of Jimmy's cause of death when she received the toxicology report from the Massachusetts Office of the Medical Examiner last Friday.

Jimmy Hayes; Kristen Marks
Kristen Marks Instagram

Jimmy, a 31-year-old native of Dorchester, Massachusetts, was pronounced dead by first responders at his Milton home on Aug. 23. The night prior to his death, Jimmy and Kristen celebrated their son Beau's second birthday with their son Mac, who was born on May 5.

"We love and miss our son and brother very much. Know that we truly appreciate the outpouring of love we have received. We hope you can respect our need to grieve privately as a family during this difficult time," Jimmy's father Kevin Sr. said in a statement on Monday.

Kevin Sr. told the Globe that his son previously had struggled with an addiction to pain pills while playing professionally.

Jimmy Hayes
Jimmy Hayes. Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty

In 2008, Jimmy, who was affectionately known by his nickname Broadway, was drafted 60th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs and made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011. Two years later he was traded to the Florida Panthers and eventually played for his hometown club Boston Bruins in 2015. Jimmy finished his professional career with the New Jersey Devils in 2018.

Before his seven seasons in the NHL, Jimmy played 334 games for four teams after a successful collegiate career and NCAA championship at Boston College.

Jimmy and his younger brother Kevin, who plays on the Philadelphia Flyers, were fixtures in the local Dorchester youth hockey community. On Aug. 30, a procession of youth athletes dressed in Dorchester Youth Hockey jerseys lined the local streets to honor their hometown hero before Jimmy's funeral at St. Ann's Church.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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