Retired San Diego Chargers star linebacker Junior Seau has died of an apparent suicide, reportedly shooting himself in the chest.
Seau was found at his Oceanside, Calif., by police with a handgun found by the body, according to reports.
“Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now,” the Chargers said in a statement. “We ask everyone to stop what they’re doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family.”
"I can't put into words how I'm feeling right now," Chargers owner Dean Spanos said. "I'm shocked and devastated. Junior was my friend. We all lost a friend today. Junior was an icon in our community. He transcended the game. He wasn't just a football player, he was so much more.
"He was loved by everyone in our family, our organization and throughout the NFL. This is just such a tragic loss. One of the worst things I could ever imagine. My prayers go out to Junior's family. It's heartbreaking." Added Chargers coach Norv Turner: "I have no words to describe the passing of Junior Seau. It is a sad, sad day not only for me, but for the whole sports community. I worked with Junior here and later in Miami. I can tell you no one had more character and true leadership ability than Junior. He brought passion to the game of football that was unmatched. His commitment to charitable causes in the community was inspiring. It was an honor to know him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Dolphins CEO Mike Dee has issued the following statement:
"We are stunned and saddened at the passing of Junior Seau. During his time with the Dolphins he made a unique contribution to the team and the South Florida community. Junior was a fierce competitor whose passion and work ethic lifted his teammates to greater heights. His enthusiasm for the game was infectious and he passed that on to everyone who was around him. He loved the game so much, and no one played with more sheer joy.
"Beyond his accomplishments on the field, though, he was as well known for his charitable accomplishments to help those less fortunate than himself, especially kids. Whether it was in San Diego, South Florida, New England or everywhere else in between, Junior loved putting a smile on a child’s face during his “Shop with a Jock” program or during one of his countless school visits. He made a difference to so many people in so many places. Junior was one-of-a-kind. The league will never see anyone like him again. He will be missed, and on behalf of the Miami Dolphins we want to extend our condolences to his family."
Known for his outstanding play and leadership, Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection who also played for the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots.
Two years ago, Seau was hospitalized when his Cadillac Escalade drove off a highway and down a 30-foot bluff.
Seau had apparently fallen asleep, hours after an arrest on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend. He was ultimately not charged.
"We were shocked to hear of the initial reports regarding Junior Seau earlier today and are deeply saddened by the news of his death," the Patriots said in a statement. "We were fortunate to have had Junior join the Patriots in 2006 and are thankful for his many contributions to the team over the next four years. He had a legendary NFL career and his unrivaled passion for the game quickly made him a fan favorite here in New England.
"This is a sad day for the entire Patriots organization, our coaches and his many Patriots teammates. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his many friends who will mourn this loss.”
We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and NFL colleagues.
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