Exclusive Series: Behind Bars, The NFL Prospect & Viral Vine Sensation Who Got Caught Pimping

For any high school student, standing next to Michael Strahan and Deion Sanders on Good Morning America would be a dream come true. The national attention was just the tip of the iceberg. Gary Shawn Haynes, Jr. had a bright future ahead of him beyond just the 15 minutes of fame he garnered after catching his own Hail Mary pass. 

Haynes’ self-produced vine video was viewed hundreds of thousands of times and looped millions of times. The whole show lasted just seconds as Haynes threw the football and then, with lightning speed, ran a whopping 40 yards to catch his own pass to himself. His speed and athletic ability wowed everyone who watched, many doubting if it was a real video until Haynes replicated it with his High School Coach in Manvel, Texas.

Courtesy: Vine, Gary Haynes

ESPN, ABC, NY Post, you name a mainstream sports publication and it featured Haynes, calling him a standout high school football star with real NFL potential. His invitation to join Michael Strahan, Robin Roberts and team on Good Morning America marked the first time Haynes had ever left Texas. A glamorous flight to New York, a spot on the star-studded set before a live crowd, all topped off by a visit from his childhood football hero Deion Sanders. Haynes was nicknamed Geion by friends and family. 

Sanders handed the shy high schooler two tickets to the NFL Draft as Strahan remarked, “In a few years, we are gonna be watching you. Deion is gonna be on the NFL Network talking about Geion Sanders getting drafted.” 

Haynes ended the segment throwing the ball up in the air then doing a backflip as he again caught his own lob to himself. The crowd went wild and Haynes mentioned multiple colleges that were eyeing him. 

In 2015, Haynes committed to the Division 1 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. The 5’9, 150 lb Cornerback was a three-star recruit on 247 Sports.com and an easy starter for the team bringing immense versatility. According to the U. of Louisiana at Lafayette’s website, Haynes was rated as the No. 28 wide receiver in Texas and No. 30 in Texas Midland.  He caught 67 passes for 1,047 yards his senior year of high school and was named a First -Team All-District 22-6A selection. He helped his High School reach a 13-1 record and an appearance in the Class 6A-Division II regional finals. To top it off, Haynes was named MVP of Houston’s Nike Football Training Camp. 

Haynes arrival on campus at Louisiana at Lafayette created quite a stir. He was akin to a celebrity basking in internet fame. The viral sensation continued to impress on the field. As a freshman Haynes hauled in 25 passes for 174 yards and served as a punt return specialist, showing “explosive ability in his two years” on the team, according to one local radio station. Despite an injury, Haynes caught 11 passes as his Coaches hoped he would “grow into a primetime player” by the end of his college career. 

But, in 2016, the momentum began to sour. Haynes was suspended from the team, with some fans on online forums calling him a troublemaker. Others attributed the suspension to academic issues. On November 20, 2016, the local ESPN radio station reported that Haynes decided to ask for his own release from the team. His coach told the station that Haynes wanted to get “closer to home” and rumors swirled that he would be transferring to Texas Southern University.  

There’s no record of Haynes every playing at TSU. Around this time, Haynes’ online presence as a college football star went quiet. Behind the scenes, his life began to take a drastic change that would alter his fate forever. Sometime between late 2016 and early 2017, Haynes met a local rapper and convicted felon named Jaimian Rashaad Sims, nicknamed “Sauce Lean.” Back in 2010, Sims had been convicted of aggravated robbery and while out on parole, was caught with an unlawful firearm. At the time, Sauce’s rap game was exploding on social media as he rapped in graphic detail about guns, drugs, prostitution, pimping and misogyny. The relationship between the two progressed into dark territory.

Exactly a year after the news broke that Haynes was leaving the Ragin’ Cajuns, a 911 call would derail Haynes’ NFL aspirations entirely. The date: November 23, 2017, is listed in Court records as the day Haynes allegedly sex trafficked a minor. The federal complaint, charged the once standout football star as being a co-conspirator in a prostitution ring, allegedly spearheaded by Sims. The feds say Sims had set up a prostitution enterprise and took Haynes under his wing, training him to be a pimp and supplying him with at least one underage girl to prostitute. 

Haynes was accused of transporting the seventeen-year-old to engage in forced prostitution. A police investigator discovered the young woman when she contacted family members for help. The investigator described her as a runaway from La Grange, Texas who had told a friend she was interested in becoming a stripper and was introduced to a local gang known to law enforcement as “The Sauce Factory.” Sims, aka “Sauce Lean” was a rapper for the group.  According to police, THS was known for sex trafficking. Police describe Haynes at the time, as an established and known Pimp who told the young woman he would “boss her up,” which meant to the woman he would take care of her and buy her things. But later court records indicate the young woman may have been Haynes’ very first prostitute, and a way for him to learn the ropes.  

The young woman told a different story. She told police she believed she was in a dating relationship with Haynes. He had allegedly promised her an opportunity to be an adult entertainer at a Houston club, so she ran away with him. Court documents detail the disturbing story as Haynes picked the minor up and brought her to a sprawling 5,000 square foot house called the “Mansion,” owned by a top member of “The Sauce Factory,” known as “Sauce Walka.”  The Mansion was a glamorous Houston based home that according to court documents was housing several prostitutes and their pimps. Shortly thereafter, Haynes rented a room for the minor at the Express Inn hotel located alongside a freeway in Houston, Texas where Sims was reportedly running his prostitution enterprise. The young woman and Haynes had sex and Haynes introduced her to another prostitute, according to cops. The prostitute he introduced her to threatened her with a gun, took photos of her in lingerie and posted them to Backpage.com, according to court records. Once part of this alleged prostitution ring, the young woman told police she was forced to prostitute for several days and give all of the money she earned to Haynes who told her she had a $500 a day quota. At that point she called her grandmother and police, asking to be rescued.  

When police raided the Express Inn, they arrested several prostitutes and quickly executed a search warrant on Haynes’ social media accounts discovering “the recruitment he conducts to girls and women,” court documents reveal.  

In March of 2018, Haynes was charged in Harris County, Texas, with two felonies: sex trafficking and compelling prostitution. Haynes was quick to arrange a deal, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, which carried a minimum federal sentence of five years and earned Haynes a place on the sex offender registry. 

Sims and at least one other co-conspirator were charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, sex trafficking of minors and sex trafficking using force or coercion. The case went to trial where Sims’ graphic rap videos, which mention Haynes and his college football career, as well as the prostitution enterprise, were admitted as evidence of his crimes. A jury found Sims guilty of Counts 1 and 2 and he was sentenced to life in prison. 

But it wasn’t long before Sims appealed his conviction, calling Haynes the one who orchestrated the prostitution ring and decrying the admission of his rap videos as prejudicial to his trial. Sims claimed that the lyrics in the videos, which described women as “bi*****” and “wh****” and glorified the pimp lifestyle, including designer clothes, violence, weapons, money, drugs, jewelry, and “selling white b******,” were fictional and did not depict his real life. 

But upon closer examination the Court of Appeals found that the videos were relevant in referencing real life events and that their probative value outweighed any danger of unfair prejudice. The Court’s reasoning included the fact that Sims performs in all three videos presented at trial and witnesses testified about the videos relating to real events. 

One witness specifically testified that one of the videos was made shortly after Sims was arrested for sex trafficking a minor and references Haynes saying, “While you was trying to be a top draft pick,” …“N[***a] trying to put the feds on me, but they won’t put me with the dead homies.” The Court ruled that the “video connects Sims to Haynes in this particular case, and it depicts the use of firearms, which was highly relevant for the government’s case on Count 3, the force charge.” In another video, Sims and Sauce Walka flash guns and money while rapping about violence and pimping. The Court ruled that the violence and weapons depicted in the videos were relevant to the force charge—that Sims sex trafficked by force, fraud, or coercion.  Although Sims requested a full acquittal on appeal, this past August, the Court of Appeals affirmed Sims’ conviction.  

Meanwhile, Haynes, now 25, is presently inside a medium security prison in Forrest City, Arkansas, with a scheduled release date of July, 2024. The Mansion was sold in March of this past year. 

Haynes’ jersey traded for a jumpsuit. A path to the pros left untraveled and full of what ifs. The Hail Mary pass, a desperate pass with an exceptionally small chance of completion, is now a remarkable irony, for a young man who got caught up in his own vices, and was left to face the consequences alone, never achieving that dream of playing pro. Never reaching completion.  But for Haynes, now 25, he will emerge from prison a relatively young man, not yet thirty years old. The path he charts going forward will be determined by how he chooses to use the lessons he has learned and perhaps as he does his time, the real Hail Mary will help him through the darkness and back on a path towards that bright future that was once so clearly within his reach.  

SEE Gary Shawn Haynes on Good Morning America HERE