The sports world mourned the tragic passing of USC football great and future NFL Hall-of-Famer Junior Seau on Wednesday. The legendary linebacker was found dead in his home in Oceanside, California from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
Seau was a beloved figure in southern California and around the league. The outpouring of emotion in the wake of his death stands as a moving testament to that fact.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Seau's family and friends.
Luisa Mauaga Seau, Junior's mother, made an impassioned statement to the attendant media in Oceanside, asking everyone to "show your love to my son." She also expressed bewilderment regarding the circumstances of his untimely death.
Seau was visibly distraught by the news of her son's passing.
Few players reacted to Seau's death with as much raw emotion as did Marcellus Wiley. The former defensive end spent three years as a teammate of Junior's with the Chargers, from 2001 to 2003.
Wiley talked about his disbelief upon hearing of Junior's passing and his relationship with a man he admired as a kid growing up in Los Angeles and later had the privilege of sharing a field with. Wiley also mentioned an incident from October of 2010 in which Seau drove his car off a cliff in Carlsbad, an act which many suspected was an attempt at suicide.
He went on to recall Seau's enthusiasm for the game of football, along with his friendly, loving personality.
ESPN NFL guru John Clayton remembered Junior for his graciousness, his fun-loving personality and his competitive spirit. Clayton also commented on Seau's struggles with the adjustment to life after football and considered whether Seau's death would bring attention to this oft-overlooked issue among professional athletes.
Norv Turner, the head coach of the San Diego Chargers, offered his thoughts on the Bolts legend. Turner served as the Chargers offensive coordinator in 2001, while Seau was still wearing No. 55 in San Diego and spent time around Seau with the Miami Dolphins in 2003.
Turner talked about Seau's impact as a leader and a mentor wherever he went.
Steve Young, the Hall-of-Fame quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, went on SportsCenter to discuss Seau's passing. Young's Niners beat Seau's Chargers, 49-26, to win Super Bowl XXIX in 1994.
Young expressed shock at the apparent suicide of a man he'd known for 25 years and wondered, as so many have, what he could've done to help Seau in his time of need.
Tedy Bruschi played next to Junior with the New England Patriots from 2006 to 2008. He talked about Seau's remarkable work ethic and ability to inspire greatness in everyone around him, teammates and coaches alike.
Bruschi went on to discuss his relationship with Seau as a friend and his experience sharing the field and the locker room with a man he idolized growing up.
Seau came out of retirement to play for the Pats, whom he helped guide to an appearance in Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants.
Derrick Brooks never played with Junior Seau, but formed a strong bond with his fellow linebacker through their spectacular play at their position of choice. Brooks came into the NFL in 1995, just after Seau led the Chargers to the Super Bowl, and spent his entire career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brooks talked about Seau as the standard bearer, as both a linebacker and a human being, when he entered the league. He also praised Seau for his charitable work, particularly with the Junior Seau Foundation, and how much Seau did to positively impact so many lives in and around southern California.