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Junior Seau’s Lasting Impression

| January 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

Normally I have not gotten close enough to a professional athlete, or celebrity for that matter, to feel more than sadness for a passing of a life. Junior Seau was an exception, and his passing impacted me on a personal level.

Many years ago I had the pleasure to meet Junior while he was still a senior at Oceanside High School in California, and not famous except in his high school and athletic circle. Very seldom does a brief encounter leave a lasting impression, but this one did, and I have never forgotten it, even 27 years later.

My oldest son was a freshman at Oceanside when Junior was a senior. In the world of high school that is a big chasm. Junior was BMOC, captain of the football team, best baseball player, basketball star, etc. He also was a very handsome young man, so very popular with everyone.

Seniors don’t pay attention to freshmen, even if they are on the football team together. My son Todd was good at football, but not first or second stringer at that time, and it was a large team. junior seau

One weekend our family decided to go to the local movie theater. Junior was standing with a group of seniors and their girlfriends, all wearing letter jackets, when we came in. He saw my son and gave him a nod of acknowledgement, which would have been sufficient, but Junior actually left his group and came over to shake Todd’s hand and introduce himself to us.

This may not seem like much, but it was a big deal to Todd, that someone as important as Junior in his school would even acknowledges him in public. It certainly impressed me. He was a kind and considerate young man, and thought about others. No one was a stranger when Junior was around. He was definitely possessed the traits of a real leader for his team, his school and his community.

Years later, when Junior was drafted by the NFL, and finally the San Diego Chargers, we followed his career with joy. He deserved all the success he received, and all the community work he did outside the stadium just reinforced my original impression of him. The man definitely had a story to pass on. You never saw him without a smile, and there wasn’t anyone he looked down upon or felt better than.

Junior came from a large Samoan family, and they have a big community in Oceanside and the San Diego area. My heart goes out to them for their loss, and to the community to which he devoted much of his time.

One of the regular writing jobs I have done consisted of writing about the brain and things that affect it. I have written several articles on brain injuries and concussions, especially among athletes. Funny thing is, every time I wrote about the NFL players fighting the league’s cavalier attitude about the long-term effect of concussion I looked for Junior’s name on the list of defendants. Now his name leads the list for those who have accused the NFL of being more concerned about profits than safety.

Concussion damage may not be something that manifests itself immediately after the incident. It could be many years later, and shows up in changes in personality – especially depression.

People like Junior never want others to know they are having problems. Culturally the man was a tower of strength. It saddens me to think he could have been helped if he had only told someone he was having problems, and they had listened.

Goodby Junior Seau. You were a leader and an angel here on earth, and now you are wrapping those big arms around others and protecting them. Even in death you continue to leave an impact.

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Category: Football

About the Author ()

Toni Lawrence is a freelance writer, entrepreneur and business consultant. She is the mother of four, grandmother of three, and a prolific ghost writer for many well-known public speakers and websites. She is co-owner of Shadow Wings Consulting (, consulting small businesses; and owner of Celebrate Milestones ( , an online store. You can email her at

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