After graduation, Haywood enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the 1997–98 season. Haywood was recruited by legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Smith, but the coach retired shortly after Haywood's arrival on campus and turned the job over to his assistant, Bill Guthridge. Haywood backed up Makhtar N'Diaye at the center position his freshman season, and was the most-used bench player after the six rotating starters ( Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Shammond Williams, Ed Cota, Ademola Okulaja and N'Diaye). That season, the Tar Heels advanced to the National Semifinals of the 1998 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
Haywood moved into the starting lineup during his sophomore season, and the Tar Heels earned a #3 seed in the 1999 NCAA tournament, but were eliminated in the first round. The Tar Heels struggled again during the 1999–2000 season, but experienced a resurgence during the 2000 NCAA tournament, reaching the Final Four. The 2000–01 season was Haywood's last at UNC, and the first for new head coach Matt Doherty. That season the Tar Heels earned a #2 seed in the 2001 NCAA tournament, but were eliminated in the second round.
At UNC, Haywood recorded the first triple-double in school history against the University of Miami on December 4, 2000 with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks (which was also a UNC record). He also finished his college basketball career as the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time leader in field goal percentage (63.7%), and is the Tar Heels' all-time leader in blocked shots (304). During his senior year, Haywood was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference 2nd Team, and also was named 2nd Team All-America by the Sporting News. 
Currently a broadcaster for ESPN, CBS, and NBA TV.
Washington Wizards (2001–2010)
Haywood was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 20th overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft. He was later traded to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Michael Doleac, who in turn traded him to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Laron Profit and a first-round draft pick. After playing as the Wizards' starting center for the bulk of six years, Haywood began putting up career numbers in the 2007–08 season.
Dallas Mavericks (2010–2012)
On February 13, 2010, Haywood was traded to the Dallas Mavericks along with Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton, and Quinton Ross.  On July 9, 2010, Haywood re-signed with the Mavericks  to a reported six-year, $55 million deal. The Mavericks went on to win the 2011 NBA championship.  On July 12, 2012, Haywood was waived by the Mavericks under the league's amnesty clause. 
Charlotte Bobcats (2012–2014)
Cleveland Cavaliers (2014–2015)
On July 12, 2014, Haywood was traded, along with the drafts right to Dwight Powell, to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Scotty Hopson and cash considerations.  The Cavaliers made it to the 2015 NBA Finals, but they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games. Haywood saw no playoff action.
On July 27, 2015, Haywood was traded, along with Mike Miller and two future second-round draft picks, to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for cash considerations.  However, the Blazers waived him three days later. 
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Denotes season in which Haywood won an NBA championship|
|2010–11 †||Dallas||72||8||18.5||. 574||.000||.362||5.2||.3||.2||1.0||4.4|