Junior Seau’s paddle out memorial
The public was quick to respond to news of Junior Seau’s death last Wednesday with small shrines set up outside his beachfront home in Oceanside and his restaurant in Mission Valley. The most heartfelt display of love for this fallen hero has to be the paddle out that occurred this past Friday in the water south of the pier in Oceanside. Close to 200 surfers crowded together in the water accompanied by nearly 1,200 people on shore to gather in memory of the retired professional football player.
Seau was an avid surfer and was constantly spotted in the waves in front of his home. In the water friends and fans of Seau joined hands to form a circle and said a prayer. They also chanted his name and his number 55 while splashing the water and had a moment of silence at 5:55PM. In the crowd of people honoring Seau was the quarterback of the Saints, Drew Brees, who played two seasons with Seau while on the Chargers. Brees told the NFL Network that,
“Junior always cared so much about his teammates. He always wanted to know how you were doing, how (he) could help you. That’s what I’ll remember most about Junior — just the smile on his face, his attitude, and his infectious personality.
Other professional athletes shared their experience of the “Tasmanian Devil” as Seau was nicknamed. John Carney who played with Seau during the 1990-2000 seasons told U-T San Diego, “So many people out here have a story about when he told them a joke, or bought them a meal, signed their jersey or encouraged their child. … We’re all grieving the loss of a great man who had so much positive impact on San Diego.”
Junior Seau did lead a life that left a profound impact on many San Diegans. As a philanthropist he focused most of his efforts on helping youths in the city and in 1992 he created the Junior Seau Foundation. This was an organization that was geared towards raising money and awareness for programs that educated young people and helped them pursue brighter futures. In addition, he started the Junior Seau Celebrity Golf Classic fundraiser, which celebrated its 20th anniversary when it was held at the La Costa Resort and Spa this past March.
Considered one of the best linebackers in the game, Seau is survived by two sons and a daughter by his ex-wife Gina Deboer. Seau’s family has decided to donate a sample of his brain to be examined for football-related damages.