As part of the award, which is the NFLPA’s highest honor, the union will donate $100,000 to the Hayden Hurst Foundation.
Hurst was recognized for opening up about his personal battles with depression, substance abuse and his attempted suicide in 2016 in a video and story posted on the Falcons’ website.
The NFLPA said in a statement that Hurst had said during this week’s NFLPA #AthleteAnd Players Summit that a man reached out to him and said that Hurst’s personal story is what kept him from killing himself. Hurst has connected with over 700 people and pointed them to the help they need since he has shared his story, the NFLPA said.
According to the NFLPA, in the time since Hurst’s video and story were posted on the Falcons’ website, more than $150,000 was donated to the Hayden Hurst Foundation, whose mission is to fund mental health services for children and adolescents. With funds that were raised, the foundation, through its In Focus program, has supported nearly 270 teachers, 5,500 students and 8,185 parents with training programs in elementary and middle schools in Atlanta, Maryland and South Carolina. Two low-income schools in Florida will be helped by other funds raised.
“I cannot begin to explain how much this means to me, my family, and to all the people that we will now be able to help through the use of these funds,” Hurst said in the statement.