Local sports hero Junior Seau was laid to rest in his native Oceanside Friday as tens of thousands of fans prepared to flock to Qualcomm Stadium for a public memorial service.
Programming Note: In order to air the Celebration of Life tribute, ABC10 has made the following changes to it's programming lineup:4 p.m. -- Watch a special 4 p.m. edition of 10News4:30 p.m. -- World News5 p.m. -- 10News at 56 p.m. -- 10News at 66:30 p.m. -- Live coverage of the Junior Seau Celebration of Life tribute on ABC 10*The tribute to Junior Seau can also be watched online at 6:30 p.m. at Chargers.com
Friday's events continued a string of services that began last Sunday with a traditional surfer's paddle-out ceremony in the waters in front of the former San Diego Chargers linebacker's beachfront home, where he was found dead last week of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. On Thursday, a private viewing of Seau in his casket was held at the same Calvary Chapel in Oceanside where a private funeral was held Friday morning.
Members of Seau's family, including his two children, ex-wife Gina, friends and former teammates such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Marcellus Wiley packed the 2,000-seat church before his body was taken to Eternal Hills cemetery in Oceanside.
Pastor Miles McPherson of the Rock Church led the service, which included tributes from family members, a slideshow and a world-famous Polynesian Christian band. The Katinas, reportedly Seaus favorite group, were flown in for the funeral.
Seaus immediate family spent the night at the church.
Adam Riojas, the churchs outreach pastor, grew up with Seau, and he said the family is holding up the best they can.
Theyre taking it very hard, the mother, especially the mother, shes taking it really hard, its been tough, said Riojas.
Riojas shared with 10News how the family wants Seau to be remembered.
The boy who became a man, one of their favorite sayings was just to love everyone, every morning, theyd hear it from their family, said Riojas.
Seau became a San Diego sports icon during his 20-year NFL career, joining the likes of Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn and Don Coryell, the late Chargers and San Diego State University coach. The Chargers, who are paying for Friday evening's "Celebration of Life" event at Qualcomm Stadium, expect anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 people to attend.
Gene Quiocho, Seaus cousin, said the family is humbled by all the support. He hopes the loss of the NFL great leads to changes on the field.
Im hoping the NFL will see that there are many people who are taking their life unexpectedly because they dont have the answer, I mean they are going through physical and emotional problems with their concussions, said Quiocho.
10News learned the family has made a decision whether to donate Seaus brain to science, but that decision will not be made public.
Really, its just for Junior, get the attention off a brain and bring it to Junior, what hes done, his legacy, what hes all about, said Riojas.
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