At the time of the incident, Taylor was recuperating from a knee injury in his Miami area home. The news of his death came as a big shock to people not only in the NFL but to everyone around the sporting world.
Before starting his NFL career, Taylor played on the University of Miami Hurricanes, one of the premiere college football programs in the nation. In 2003, his final year at Miami, Taylor produced a historic season that culminated with many honors and awards.
He was named a consensus first-team All-American, the Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back. He led the Big East conference in interceptions with 10, tying the record for picks in a season with former Hurricane Bennie Blades. Also, during a game against the University of Pittsburgh, Taylor returned three interceptions for touchdowns, setting a Miami single-season record.
In 2004, Taylor announced that he would enter the NFL draft. He was the fifth overall pick by the Washington Redskins, ahead of five of his teammates from Miami.
Taylor had an impressive rookie season, emerging as the Redskins’ starting safety by the third game of the season. He finished the season with 89 tackles, two forced fumbles, and a sack, and led the Redskins in interceptions with four.
In his sophomore year in the pros, he established himself as one of the hardest hitters in the NFL. In 2006, Taylor’s continued impressive play on the field earned him a spot on the Pro-Bowl roster. One the Washington Redskins’ assistant coaches, Greg Williams, frequently called Taylor the best athlete he had ever coached.
Taylor began the 2007 season determined to lead his team into the playoffs. Before being sidelined with a knee injury in week 10, Taylor led the league in interceptions with five.
Taylor returned to his Miami area home to recuperate from his injury. On November 26th, an intruder broke into his home and shot Taylor several times in his leg. Taylor was immediately flown out to Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital. Unfortunately, several hours after emergency surgery at the hospital, he was pronounced dead.
Numerous NFL players honored Taylor the following week by placing a #21 sticker on the back of their helmets. The first game after Sean Taylor’s death began with the Redskins' defense playing with ten men on the field rather than eleven, and many players were seen signaling to the sky and holding up the numbers two and one on several occasions.
At the University of Miami, a candlelit vigil was held in Taylor’s honor the evening of December 2nd. Approximately 4000 people attended Taylor’s funeral service held on December 3rd.
Taylor was posthumously voted starting safety for the NFC team in the 2008 Pro Bowl. The NFL has decided to give Taylor’s family twenty thousand dollars, which is usually given to each player that earns a spot on the Pro Bowl roster.
Taylor’s sudden passing shocked everyone around the NFL and the sporting world at large. His death reminds us of how fragile our lives can be, and not to take our loved ones for granted.