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Former Patriots linebacker Junior Seau found dead in apparent suicide

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  May 2, 2012 05:17 PM

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Junior Seau

Former Patriots linebacker Junior Seau has died of suicide, according to multiple reports. (Matthew J. Lee / Globe file photo)

Junior Seau, a 43-year old 12-time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker, was found dead today in his home, the result of a gunshot wound, police confirmed.

Police are investigating the shooting at the Oceanside, Calif., residence of the former New England Patriot and San Diego Chargers football star as a suicide. Police confirmed that Seau was found by his girlfriend at his beachfront home with a gunshot wound to his chest.

Police received a call at 9:35 a.m. PST from Seau's girlfriend, who informed police Seau was unconscious with a gunshot wound, before making their way to Seau's house and performing "life saving" efforts on him in his bedroom, according to police. A handgun was found.

The Patriots released a statement on Seau's death:

Patriots statement on the death of Junior Seau: "We were shocked to hear of the initial reports regarding Junior Seau earlier today and are deeply saddened by the news of his death. 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."

The Chargers also released a statement:

"Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family."
"He was a local hero -- he certainly gave back to the community and to the youth through his Junior Seau Foundation," Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood told the North County Times. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Seau's death, by gunshot wound to the chest, is similar to the way former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson died of suicide. Duerson shot himself in the chest on Feb. 17 -- a method used so that his brain could be examined for symptoms of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a trauma-induced disease common to NFL players and others who have received repeated blows to the head.

Several Patriots have released statements on Seau on Twitter, including Chad Ochocinco:

Seau's All-Pro NFL career spanned 20 seasons. He was drafted No. 5 overall in the 1990 draft out of the University of Southern California, and played 12 stellar years for the San Diego Chargers. He was named an all-pro 10 times and to the Pro Bowl all 12 seasons he was with the Chargers. In 1994, he was named the AFC Player of the Year.

In October 2010, problems in Seau's personal life surfaced when he drove his SUV off an embankment in Carlsbad, Calif., and he was hospitalized with minor injuries.

Seau told police he fell asleep hours after he was arrested on a felony domestic violence allegation and released.

In 2003, Seau was traded to the Miami Dolphins, but was released in March 2006. He was limited in his time with the Dolphins because of torn pectoral muscle.

Seau announced his retirement from football in 2006, but then days later was picked up by the Patriots. He went on to start 10 of 11 games played in the 2006 season before breaking his arm.

Seau, whose full name is Tiaina Baul Seau Jr., last played for the Patriots in 2009. He announced his intention to retire again in 2010.

In his career, he tallied 1,849 tackles and 56.5 sacks. In 38 games for the Patriots with 16 starts, he totaled 161 tackles (100 solo), 4.5 sacks, three interceptions and five passes defensed.

Seau is the eighth member of the 1994 San Diego Chargers, the team that lost Super Bowl XXIX to the 49ers, to die at a young age. The other '94 Charger players that have died: Chris Mims, David Griggs, Rodney Culver, Lewis Bush, Curtis Whitley, Shawn Lee, and Doug Miller.

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