Junior Seau facts for kids
Seau with the Patriots in December 2008
|Date of birth:January 19, 1969|
|Place of birth: Oceanside, California|
|Date of death: May 2, 2012(aged 43)|
|Place of death: Oceanside, California|
|NFL Draft: 1990 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5|
|No regular season or postseason appearances|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
|Pro Football Hall of Fame|
Tiaina Baul Seau Jr. (January 19, 1969 – May 2, 2012), better known as Junior Seau, was a linebacker in the National Football League (NFL). Known for his passionate play, he was a 10-time All-Pro, 12-time Pro Bowl selection, and named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He was elected posthumously to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
Originally from Oceanside, California, Seau played college football at the University of Southern California (USC). He was chosen by the San Diego Chargers as the fifth overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft. Seau started for 13 seasons for the Chargers and led them to Super Bowl XXIX before being traded to the Miami Dolphins where he spent three years, and spent his last four seasons with the New England Patriots. Following his retirement, he was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame and the team retired his number 55.
Seau died by suicide at the age of 43. Later studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded that Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of chronic brain damage, that has also been found in other deceased former NFL players and other NFL players who have died by suicide. The disease is believed to derive from repetitive head trauma, and can lead to conditions like dementia, rage and depression.
Tiaina Baul Seau Jr. in Oceanside, California. Tiaina Sr.'s grandfather was a village chief in Pago Pago. After Seau was born, the family moved back to American Samoa for several years before returning to San Diego; Seau did not learn to speak English until he was seven years old. At home, Seau and his three brothers had to sleep in the family's one-car garage.
Seau attended Oceanside High School in Oceanside, where he lettered in football, basketball, and track and field. As a football player, Seau was a starter at linebacker and tight end, and as a senior, he was named the Avocado League offensive MVP and led the 18-member Oceanside Pirates team to the San Diego 2A championship. Parade selected Seau to its high school All-American team.
In basketball, as a senior, he was named the California Interscholastic Federation San Diego Section Player of the Year. He helped his team win the 1987 Lt. James Mitchell Tournament and make third place in the Mt. Carmel Invitational. In track and field, he was the Avocado League champion in the shot put. Seau was also named to California's all-academic team with a 3.6 grade-point average.
After graduating from high school, Seau attended the University of Southern California (USC). He had to sit out his freshman season due to his 690 SAT score on the college entrance exam, which was 10 points short of USC's minimum score for freshman eligibility.
He lettered in his final two seasons, 1988 and 1989, posting 19 sacks in 1989 en route to a unanimous first-team All-American selection.
His restaurant in Mission Valley, California—Seau's The Restaurant, which opened in 1996—was his most successful business venture. Seau also had a clothing line, Say Ow Gear. The restaurant was closed May 16, 2012, just two weeks after his death.
Sports Jobs with Junior Seau premiered on December 2, 2009, on Versus. The show followed Seau as he did the jobs that make sports work. Ten episodes aired through January 27, 2010.
Seau was actively involved with community work through Samoan "sister city" projects within San Diego County.
In 1992, Seau created the Junior Seau Foundation with the mission to educate and empower young people through the support of child abuse prevention, drug and alcohol awareness, recreational opportunities, anti-juvenile delinquency efforts and complementary educational programs.
The 20th Anniversary Junior Seau Celebrity Golf Classic was held March 10–12, 2012, at the La Costa Resort and Spa.
The Foundation gives out an annual award to the individual who exemplifies the mission statement of the Junior Seau Foundation.
In 1989, Seau's oldest son, Tyler, was born to Seau's high school sweetheart, Melissa Waldrop. Seau broke up with Waldrop when Tyler was 13 months old. He married Gina Deboer in 1991. The couple had three children together, a daughter and two sons, before divorcing in 2002.
Seau sustained minor injuries in October 2010 when his SUV plunged down a 100-foot cliff. Seau maintained he had fallen asleep at the wheel.
On May 2, 2012, Seau's girlfriend found him dead at his home in Oceanside.
There was speculation that Seau suffered brain damage due to CTE, a condition traced to concussion-related brain damage with depression as a symptom, as dozens of deceased former NFL players were found to have suffered from CTE. Seau's family donated his brain tissue to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the NIH; other candidates included the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and the Brain Injury Research Institute.
On January 10, 2013, Seau's family released the NIH's findings that his brain showed definitive signs of CTE. The three experts along with two government researchers arrived at the same conclusion. The NIH said the findings on Seau were similar to autopsies of people "with exposure to repetitive head injuries."
On January 23, 2013, the Seau family sued the NFL over the brain injuries suffered by Seau over his career. In 2014, his family continued to pursue the lawsuit while opting out of the NFL concussion lawsuit's proposed settlement, which was initially funded with $765 million.
Seau was known for his passionate playing style, including a fist-pumping dance he performed after big plays. Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News said Seau "probably was the most dynamic player of his era".
He was praised by teammates for his work ethic and leadership. He would play when hurt, and often refused to leave games, his coach at New England, praised Seau's leadership and willingness to accept any role.
He was named to the Chargers 40th and 50th anniversary teams, which honor the top players and coaches in the team's history. He was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame on November 27, 2011.
The Chargers retired his No. 55 during his public memorial. The Junior Seau Pier Amphitheatre and Junior Seau Beach Community Center were renamed posthumously in his honor by the city of Oceanside in July 2012.
On September 16, 2012, the Chargers retired Seau's number 55 during a ceremony at the 2012 regular season home opener against the Tennessee Titans. The San Diego Hall of Champions inducted Seau into the Breitbard Hall of Fame on February 25, 2013, forgoing their normal two-year waiting period after an athlete's retirement or death.
Seau became eligible for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015. On January 31, 2015, Seau was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Seau is the first player of Polynesian and Samoan descent to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
On September 21, ESPN released Seau, a 30 for 30 documentary that highlighted Seau's career, as well as the effects of his injuries on his life, his family, and his post-football endeavors.
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