SAN DIEGO – May 2, 2012 – Tiaina Baul “Junior” Seau, Jr. was a local boy made good success story in San Diego. He grew up in the coastal community of Oceanside, a town best known for its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base. The city has a large Pacific Islander population including many people of Samoan heritage including Seau.
His hometown and the rest of the football world is now in shock, heartbroken and mourning the loss of Seau to suicide Wednesday morning.
According to Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy in a news conference, officers received a call from Seau’s girlfriend at his home in Oceanside at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, reporting he had been shot. McCoy said Seau was discovered in the bedroom with a gunshot wound to the chest. Lifesaving measures were attempted, but Seau was pronounced dead. McCoy confirmed the incident is being investigated as a suicide.
The scene at Seau’s home was reportedly chaotic. There was a large police presence, in part to control the crowds. Within an hour of the report, fans began flocking to the scene to leave flowers and simply to mourn the news together. Family members arrived in obvious distress.
Seau’s mother shared her pain and grief at the news conference. Through her sobs, she thanked everyone for showing their love to her son, Junior. Seau’s sister Annette asked the public to respect the family’s need for privacy. “My brother was a loving brother, a caring citizen. I would appreciate if you would honor his loss today and give us some kind of peace and privacy.”
The San Diego Chargers issued the following statement upon the news via the team website: “Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they’re doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family.”
The doors of Seau’s popular self-named restaurant in San Diego were padlocked today.
Seau, 43, played college football at the University of Southern California and was drafted by his hometown San Diego Chargers in 1990. He was a ten-time All-Pro and 12-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker and considered one of the greatest linebackers ever to play the game. While Seau also played briefly for the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots, most people identify Seau with the San Diego Chargers.
In his 13 seasons with the team, Seau was its heart and soul. He was a formidable defensive star at the linebacker position. No quarterback wanted to see number 55 coming at him with his relentless intensity. Seau’s love for the game, his on the field enthusiasm and his off the field larger-than-life presence endeared him to the fans. He opened a sports bar and restaurant named Seau’s which has been a fixture in San Diego for many years.
Seau was involved in numerous charitable and fundraising efforts in the community. He established the Seau Foundation to help youth programs. As the director of public affairs for the San Diego District Attorney’s office 15 years ago, Seau agreed to be the spokesperson for a public service campaign to educate parents about shaken baby syndrome. At the time the father of young children, the physically impressive Seau drove home a powerful message about a father’s responsibility to protect his children from harm.
Two years ago, Seau was involved in a single vehicle car accident. He drove his Cadillac Escalade off a cliff in Carlsbad, California, just a few hours after he was arrested, booked into jail and then released on bail for allegedly attacking his girlfriend. The accident raised suspicions about a suicide attempt at the time. Seau denied it, insisting he’d simply fallen asleep at the wheel. Today’s events cast a new light on this original incident.
Seau leaves behind an ex-wife and three children. It is not known if any of them were present at the time of the incident. He also leaves behind many saddened fans and admirers. Whatever pain drove Seau to suicide, may it be eased for him now.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group
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