'You paved the way for me:' Philadelphia Flyers' Kevin Hayes pays tribute to late brother Jimmy

Mike Brehm

Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes paid tribute Tuesday to his hockey-playing older brother Jimmy, who died at age 31 a day earlier.

Kevin, 29, and Jimmy played together at Boston College in 2010-11, one year after his brother helped the Eagles win an NCAA championship. Kevin played four seasons at the school, winning a national title in 2012, and entered the NHL in 2014-15, three years after Jimmy.

"My whole life it has always been Jimmy and Kevin or the Hayes brothers. I have followed you around since I can remember and I wouldn’t want it any other way," Kevin wrote in an Instagram post. "Whether it was youth hockey, Nobles, Boston College or the NHL, you paved the way for me. You taught me everything I needed to know in order to succeed."

The Boston Globe reported that authorities responded to Jimmy's Milton, Massachusetts, home on Monday, where he was pronounced dead. He and his wife, Kristen, had celebrated their son Beau's second birthday during the weekend. The couple also had a 3-month-old son, Mac.

Kevin Hayes is entering his third season with the Flyers and eighth overall in the NHL. Jimmy played seven NHL seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, hometown Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils. He wrapped up his professional hockey career in the American Hockey League in 2018-19.

Kevin reflected on the personal side of his brother during his tribute.

"You lit up every single room you walked into with your smile and positive attitude," Kevin wrote. "Everyone wanted to be around Jim, the big, goofy, horrible dancer, funny, genuine and kindest person around. I will never forget the times we shared or the memories we made and know that I will try my hardest to have your legacy live on.

"Our world lost someone special and I don’t know if I will ever be the same but till we meet again, I LOVE YOU JIM!"