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    Posted May 3, 2012 by
    gailpowell
    Location
    Oceanside, California
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    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

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    COMMUNITY MOURNS THE LOSS OF JUNIOR SEAU

     

    The city of San Diego is crying today for Junior Seau-the beloved Charger player who meant so much to so many is gone. The most painful part of the whole story--supposedly killed by his own hand. His girlfriend discovered Junior yesterday morning unconscious & suffering the effects of a gunshot to his chest.

     

    The 43-year old NFL great seemed to be doing well in retirement. He had gone on to play for the Miami Dolphins & the New England Patriots after the Chargers cut him loose. Seau owned several restaurants--some of which have closed over the years. But his Seau's eatery in Mission Valley seemed to be a bona fide success story & full of Charger fans whooping it up on game days.

     

    Now Seau's, located at 1640 Camino del Rio South, seems to have become a Seau shrine & place of mourning. Closed again for a second day today in honor of their namesake owner's passing, the front now festooned with flowers & memorial candles.

     

    Something a Pastor said yesterday when he was at the scene offering spiritual support to the grief-stricken Seau family really hit home. "I'm sorry to say, Superman is dead. All of us can appear to be super, but all of us need to reach out & find support when we're hurting."

     

    No one appeared to have any idea of Seau being in any kind of emotional distress. An AP story noted that not even Seau's ex-wife (& the mother of his children) knew what "might have led to the former first-pumping, emotional leader of his hometown San Diego Chargers" killing himself. "We have no clues whatsoever," Gina Seau said. "We're as stunned & shocked as anyone else. We're horribly saddened."

     

    Excruciating to watch was the reaction of Seau's mother as she spoke to reporters & family supporters outside her son's home yesterday. Weeping uncontrollably in anguish, Luisa Seau said "I don't understand ... I'm shocked."
    Her son gave no indication of a problem when she spoke to him by phone earlier this week, she said.

     

    This sudden suicide by Seau leaves behind a painful trail of memories for his survivors, as most suicides seem to do. So many today are asking, "why?" Much talk in the community revolves around the possibility of concussions taking their effect on Seau & that the former player might have had CTE. Seau's death comes at a bad time for the NFL, as the league already has several class action lawsuits related to its handling of concussions on players & their side effects.

     

    CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a "progressive degenerative disease found in individuals who have been subjected to multiple concussions & other forms of head injury," according to Wikipedia.

     

    CTE has been most commonly found in professional athletes participating in football, hockey, wrestling & other contact sports, who have experienced head trauma," said Wiki. What results is characteristic degeneration of brain tissue & symptoms of dementia such as memory loss, aggression, confusion & depression.

     

    My memories of Junior Seau are very personal. I once had a Christmas job at the Sports Arena Mervyn's store. I volunteered to help out when Junior's "Seau Foundation" sponsored the "Shop With a Jock" charity. Low-income & at-risk kids came through escorted by big-name local sports celebrities with free $100 gift certificates to spend in the store.

     

    I recall watching Junior arrive & of course, he was truly impressive-looking. But I also remember thinking what a wonderful man he was to bring so much joy to these children that had so little.

     

    To think that at Junior's recent time of need, there was no one he felt he could turn to for help to talk about what was transpiring in his head is painful & gut-wrenching to realize.

     

    "Too many athletes are living in a tiny window," Seau told Sports Illustrated in 1993. "They have no vision for themselves-- what they can be outside outside of football & what they can mean to a community. " I hope Junior is at peace now & can see just how much he meant to our community & how we'll all miss him so much.

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