Seau family asks for prayers, thanks public
"On behalf of our parents and siblings, we thank you for the outpouring of love from each and everyone near and far," said a statement released through the Rev. Shawn Mitchell, longtime chaplain for the San Diego Chargers.
"We ask that you continue to pray for our family during this time as we will continue to pray for those Junior has touched. God bless the Seau family."
Mitchell, who spent the afternoon with 25 members of the family, said: "There was a real sense of calm, a real sense of family unity. The adults were quiet, holding each other trying to eat something, coming to grips with reality."
The family may announce memorial plans Thursday.
All day and into the early evening, mourners flocked to Seau's beachfront home in Oceanside where he was found dead this morning.
Many wore Chargers jerseys with Seau's name and number, 55. Some brought flowers and notes of condolence. On the nearby beach, sculpted his number in the sand.
Many remembered the charitable work of the Junior Seau Foundation, which raised $8 million from 1996 to 2010 and funded numerous youth projects, including the Oceanside Boys and Girls Club and the sports program at Oceanside High, his alma mater.
Brian Ballis, a neighbor, remembered seeing Seau surfing or paddle boarding on numerous occasions. Two days ago he saw Seau playing Hawaiian music on his ukulele.
"He was smiling and happy," Ballis said, "and looking at the sky and looking at the waves."
Seau, the former USC and Chargers star, was found dead at about 9:30 a.m. by his girlfriend as she returned from a workout.
Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy said Seau died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest, with a gun near the body. No note was found, police said. An autopsy is set for Thursday.
“As great a football player as Junior was, he was a greater human being,” Mitchell told the crowd that assembled outside Seau’s home in disbelief that the 43-year-old had taken his own life.
Seau had grown up in Oceanside and played football at Oceanside High. Even when fame and wealth were his, Seau never abandoned the community, becoming an Oceanside High football booster and guiding his foundation to help underprivileged children.
Junior Seau's mother rushed to the home and told reporters that she had no warning that her son was on the verge of suicide.
"I don't understand; I don't understand," Luisa Seau cried as she spoke to reporters and others outside the home. "I'm shocked. I appreciate everybody showing your love to my son. Junior never do anything bad.”
Throughout the day, statements of condolence were issued by sports figures and politicians.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said that, along with being an “electrifying athlete,” Seau “did so much good in so many ways” through his charitable work.
Outside the Seau home, the Rev. Miles McPherson, a former Charger and longtime friend of Seau, told the crowd: “He personified everything that is great about San Diego.... Junior was Superman to us.”
-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Oceanside and Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: A well-wisher in front of Junior Seau's home in Oceanside. Credit: Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images