Hayden Hurst
(Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool)

Recently, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott came forward about his battle with depression during COVID lockdown and ended up receiving some backlash from a very well known national sports reporter. 

Following last Sundays Cowboys victory over the Atlanta Falcons, Prescott was approached by Falcons tight end, Hayden Hurst.

“Hey, I’ve got a lot of respect for what you did, came out and talked about,”

Hurst told Prescott

Hurst, began his career as a baseball player in the Pittsburgh Pirates organzation before stepping away due to severe anxiety. He called it ‘the yips’. After baseball, Hurst joined the University of South Carolina football team in order to move on and get better. Unfortunately, he had some struggles with drugs and alcohol. In 2016, he was admitted to a local hospital after a close friend found him following a suicide attempt. 

“I try to put it out there because I want people to see it. I know it’s pretty intimate stuff talking about my attempted suicide with people that I don’t even know. But I see it as if I can put my story out there and some kid can see it and save one life, that’s the point.”

Hurst said

Hurst grew up playing baseball. His plan from day one was to pitch in the big leagues. After going undrafted in 2012, he joined the minor leagues and fell apart after a devastating bicep injury. He trained one-on-one with coaches, had hours of physical therapy, but found himself in a funk. He found himself thinking about football. Being 6’3 in high school, everyone wanted him on their team, and he took a liking to the rush of sprinting down a 100-yard field at full force and the adrenaline of crossing the white line and orange pylon. 

After many conversations with college coaches, Hurst was offered a preferred walk-on spot at South Carolina. His freshman season in 2015 was comical. He’d run the route as fast as he could and catch the pass, but, according to Hurst, he had no idea where anyone else on the field was or what they were doing. Over the next two seasons, Hurst completely turned it around. He caught 92 passes for 1,175 yards and made first-team All-SEC. 

In two years, he went from a burnt-out baseball player to an NFL first-round pick. 

In 2018, Hayden and his mother, Cathy, started The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation. They collect donations to spearhead mental health awareness programs in schools across the country. They have partnered with BTST to provide 81 mental health therapy sessions to student-athletes in the Baltimore area. Hayden and Cathy’s mission is to bring awareness to mental health in children and teens, especially those in high stress, competitive environments. 

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