Junior Seau's apparent suicide stunned an entire city and saddened former teammates who recalled the former NFL star's ferocious tackles and habit of calling everybody around him "Buddy."
It also left everyone wondering what led to Seau's death on Wednesday morning in what police said appeared to be a suicide. He was 43.
"I'm sorry to say, Superman is dead," said Shawn Mitchell, a chaplain for the San Diego Chargers. "All of us can appear to be super, but all of us need to reach out and find support when we're hurting."
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.
Neither Mitchell nor Seau's ex-wife knew what might have led to the former fist-pumping, emotional leader of his hometown San Diego Chargers to kill himself.
"We have no clues whatsoever," Gina Seau said. "We're as stunned and shocked as anyone else. We're horribly saddened. We miss him and we'll always love him."
Seau's death in Oceanside, in northern San Diego County, stunned the region he represented with almost reckless abandon. The same intensity that got the star linebacker ejected for fighting in his first exhibition game helped carry the Chargers to their only Super Bowl, following the 1994 season. A ferocious tackler, he'd leap up, pump a fist and kick out a leg after dropping a ball carrier or quarterback.
Seau's ex-wife told the Union-Tribune San Diego that he texted her and each of their three children separate messages: "I love you."