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Former NFL great Junior Seau dead in apparent suicide

 

Former NFL great Junior Seau was found dead Wednesday in his home outside San Diego from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Police Chief Frank McCoy said Seau's girlfriend reported finding him unconscious with a gunshot wound to the chest and lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful.

A gun was found near him, McCoy said. Police said no suicide note was found and they didn't immediately know who the gun was registered to.

"We believe it was a suicide," said Oceanside police Lt. Leonard Mata. "There is no indication of foul play."

Seau's mother appeared before reporters, weeping uncontrollably.

"I don't understand ... I'm shocked," Luisa Seau cried out.

Her son gave no indication of a problem when she spoke to him by phone earlier this week, she said.

"He's joking to me, he called me a 'homegirl,"' she said.

Seau had reportedly sent text messages reading, "I love you," to his ex-wife and three children on Tuesday, according to TMZ.

Chargers President Dean Spanos told the San Diego Union-Tribune he was in shock after learning of Seau's death.

"It makes you feel very sad," Spanos said. "He's brought so much to this community over the years. A good person, a good friend. He was the fabric — really a part of this community.

"He was the heart and soul of our team for so many years. Even after he left, his roots and his home were still here. Just people loved him and admired him. It's obviously shocking."

The 10-time All-Pro linebacker — who played the bulk of his storied, 20-year professional career for his hometown San Diego Chargers — had a troubled retirement, driving his Cadillac Escalade off a 30-foot coastal bluff in Carlsbad in 2010 after being arrested for attacking a woman. He later said he had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Seau left USC after his junior year and was the fifth player chosen in the 1990 draft. He played 13 years for the Chargers before joining the Miami Dolphins and ending his illustrious career with the New England Patriots.

"Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now," the team said in a statement. "We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family."

"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," Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said in a statement.

Fellow NFL great John Elway tweeted, "Junior was a true competitor and a special player. My heartfelt condolences go out to the Seau family."

Seau is the eighth member of the Chargers' 1994 Super Bowl team to have died. In December, linebacker Lew Bush suffered a heart attack at age 42. Other members of the team who have died are running back Rodney Culver, linebackers Dave Griggs and Doug Miller, defensive tackle Shawn Lee, defensive end Chris Mims and center Curtis Whitley.

More than 100 people gathered outside of Seau's home, only hours after he was found dead. Families showed up with flowers and fans wearing Chargers jerseys waited to get more news.

Seau was beloved in San Diego, where he created a foundation and had a popular restaurant that bore his name.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here for more on this report from Fox 5 San Diego.