Sudden passing of Junior Seau has most of San Diego in shock

Back in 2005, the former star linebacker of the San Diego Chargers, Junior Seau, was asked to pose for this headshot taken on Photo Day in Miami, Florida for his new team, the Miami Dolphins. Getty Images

All day, reports came across the airways about the former NFL star linebacker Junior Seau being found shot to death at his home in what appears to be a tragic suicide.

The Oceanside Police Chief, Frank McCoy, told reporters that Seau’s girlfriend reported finding him unconscious with a gunshot wound to the chest. She placed a 911 call around 9:30 a.m. On arrival the paramedics made every effort to revive Seau but their lifesaving attempts were unsuccessful. A gun was found in the same bedroom near the body.

Everyone you talk to says the same thing, “They’re in complete shock and disbelief. He was always the ra-ra guy, the one who was always in high spirits and trying his best to make everyone around him happier.”

A mother’s grief: Luisa Seau (C), the mother of Junior Seau is consoled by friends and family at the former linebacker's home in Oceanside. In addition to his mother and father, Tiaina Seau Sr., Junior Seau's survivors include his three children: daughter Sydney and sons Jake and Hunter. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Family and friends are grief stricken by the loss of Junior Seau. Photo taken outside the former NFL linebacker's beachfront property on May 2, 2012. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

At a distance, the neighbors, friends and fans stood around just to let the Seau family know that they care. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

People, including friends and family members, gather around as a coroner’s van leaves the Seau home with the body of the former NFL linebacker on May 2, 2012 in Oceanside, CA. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

As family and friends started showing up, Seau’s mother was approached by reporters. She wept uncontrollably. ”I don’t understand … I’m shocked,” cried Luisa Seau. Her son had given no indication of any problems when they spoke by phone earlier in the week. When asked a second question, his mother became hysterical and cried out to God, “Take me! Leave my son alone!”

Junior Seau of the University of Southern California Trojans rushes the Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback during their October 21, 1989 game in South Bend, Indiana. The Irish won 28-24. Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Seau was a standout linebacker for a very good University of Southern California football team before going on to play in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers, his hometown team. In 1994, Seau was instrumental in getting his team to the Super Bowl.

The Charger’s former GM Bobby Beathard, who picked Seau at #5 in the NFL Draft said, ”I just can’t imagine this, because I’ve never seen Junior in a down frame of mind. He was always so upbeat and he would keep people up. He practiced the way he played. He made practice fun. He was a coach’s dream. He was an amazing guy as well as a player and a person. This is hard to believe.”

September 8, 1996, Junior Seau is photographed sitting on the bench during the Chargers 27-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, CA. Photo: J. D. Cuban/Allsport

Charger's linebacker Junior Seau walks back on the field during a game versus the Chicago Bears at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. In this November 21, 1999 game, the Bears defeated the Chargers 23-20. Photo: Stephen Dunn/Allsport

Seau remained with the Chargers until 2003 and went on to play with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots before retiring after the 2009 season.

It’s a difficult transition for a star athlete to make when the major challenges end, and you’re forced to sit back and watch others perform your speciality. What do you do with yourself? Some athletes are lucky and have a second passion to get involved in. Apparently the running of a restaurant, Seau’s the Restaurant in Mission Valley and Temecula, lacked that allure.

On Oct. 18, 2010, Seau was arrested after his 25-year-old live-in girlfriend, Mary Nolan, reported he had assaulted her during an argument. Later that morning, five hours after being bailed out of jail, he drove his 2004 Cadillac Escalade over a rocky 30-foot coastal cliff onto Carlsbad State Beach. He suffered only minor injuries. Seau told police he had fallen asleep at the wheel. The woman had told authorities Seau assaulted her during an argument. There was no skid marks, no sign of drugs or alcohol involved in this crash. Some people believe that occurrence was a second suicide attempt and somehow tied in with the yearly concussions that football players receive.

Seau spent parts of 20 seasons in the NFL, including his 1990-2002 stint with the Chargers to help them get to their first and only Super Bowl. He was voted to a team-record 12 straight Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro six times. He amassed 545 tackles, 56 1/2 sacks and 18 interceptions in his career.

”Twenty years, to be part of this kind of fraternity, to be able to go out and play the game that you love, and all the lessons and the friends and acquaintances which you meet along the way, you can’t be in a better arena,” said Seau, in August 2011 after the Chargers announced he would be inducted into their Hall of Fame.

LB Junior Seau of the San Diego Chargers studies the Washington Redskins' offensive formation as he awaits the snap in a game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA. Chargers won 30-3. Photo Stephen Dunn/Allsport

LB Junior Seau of the New England Patriots stands on the sidelines next to QB Tom Brady late in the fourth quarter of their game against the Tennessee Titans on October 18, 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots beat the Titans 59-0. Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Seau was with the Chargers for 12 seasons until being traded to the Miami Dolphins. Then he came out of retirement several times to play for the New England Patriots in search of a Super Bowl ring. He was with the Pats when they lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII following the 2007 season, which ended New England’s quest for a perfect season.

While covering the Chargers for the Navy Compass, I found Seau to be extremely friendly in spite of our circulation numbers. At this point I just want to express my sorrow and share the better photos I have access to from Getty Images and the ones I personally took of this football legend.  This has been a very sad day.

An even better expression of people’s thoughts, comes from mixed martial artist, Waachiim Spirit Wolf, who added the following post: “A VERY sad day today, we lost a local sports hero and legend Junior Seau…prayers go out to his family, and everyone who knew him. His intensity and passion on the field inspired so many, and he will always be known for being an even better person off the field. Blessings and Prayers for you my warrior Brother…Aho all my relations.”

On Thursday, May 3, 2012, Fox Sports West reported Seau had sent text messages to his ex-wife, Gina DeBoer Seau and children just prior to sustaining the apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. His former wife told Fox that Seau sent messages to her and their three children, each ending with “I love you.”

According to the LA Times, there was more to those messages, as it has been reported the messages ended with “I love you,” meaning there could be more details that the public is unaware of. However, Seau’s pastor, Shawn Mitchell, has revealed the only thing those messages said was “simply ‘I love you'” and that the children all responded to their dad, “love you too, dad” (via FOX 8). Of course no one knows if Seau received the responses from his children before he took his life, but judging by the initial timeline presented by investigators he did. Unfortunately their messages were not enough to keep him from doing the unthinkable.

Junior Seau never did anything slipshod or halfway. Seau's the Restaurant in San Diego's Mission Valley is quite the showplace with the ultimate Sports Bar. It's often been the site for local Boxing and MMA Press Conferences. Photo: Jim Wyatt

At the luncheon to announce what turned out to be his premature retirement from football, Junior Seau gave a terrific and motivational talk about what it meant to be a Charger for 13 seasons. Photo: Jim Wyatt

To get his young family to stay put while the cameras were flashing was an impossible task. In the front row, two of the children have either turned away or turned their backs to the camera. Seau's mother and brother are missing from this photo. Photo: Jim Wyatt

At times, Junior Seau was called upon to give a motivational talk to the new players.

On December 16, 2011, Junior Seau hosted the people of Strikeforce MMA for a Press Conference at his restaurant. Two local fighters, Cris Cyborg Santos and K. J. Noons were on that fight card which fought at the Valley View Casino Sports Arena in San Diego, CA. Photo: Jim Wyatt

This was one of the many occasions when Junior Seau went out of his way to host an affair for the local Marines from the nearby Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Point Loma, San Diego, CA. Photo courtesy of Seau's the Restaurant

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