Mother's Day for Casey Hayward is bittersweet this year. This will be the first without his mother, Tish, after she lost her battle with breast cancer last July.
But for the cornerback, he's commemorating the holiday in a big way; continuing his mother's legacy of giving back through the family's Hayward's Hands foundation.
"Doing something in her name was nice because she was such a good person," Hayward explained. "I feel like that's the type of thing she would have done if roles were reversed. I was trying to keep this in my mom's name and do some good. We committed to giving out scholarships for the next nine years, so it's something our team decided to do."
Just over a week ago, Hayward gave away scholarships to two young women at his alma mater, Perry High School. Each was worth $5,000.
"We decided to give a couple scholarships this year to two young women who are well-deserving of the awards. They can use the scholarships for whatever they want towards school as long as they keep their grades up. It can go for books or tuition."
Hayward's Hands is a 501(c)3 non-profit which serves Perry through community and outreach programs. Along with providing scholarships, the organization hosts an annual holiday toy drive, provides free Thanksgiving dinners and runs cheer and football camps.
Giving back to his hometown is an experience Hayward never gets enough of.
"It's awesome to give back. That's what it's about. Since I've been in the NFL, I always wanted to give back as much as I could. We do so much back home in Perry. It's easy to give back and show support."
Hayward and his family have heavily been involved in the foundation since its inception. But since his mother's passing, he said they are giving it a "team effort" by collectively pitching in to help as much as they can. For Hayward, honoring his mother is the least he can do after everything she did for him and those in need of help.
"It shows the type of person she was. She would always give. She would give the shirt off her back to anybody. To start the foundation, Hayward's Hands, is symbolic. It's our name and with hands, we like to touch the lives of people. Any time we can touch people and the community, we'd love to do that."