SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There are several Samoan kids who play football at grant high school, where the impact of Junior Seau is felt in the Del Paso Heights community.
“Crazy. Like why would he do it?
That was the reaction from Misi Taifane, who still can’t believe that Seau, one of his heroes, apparently shot and killed himself Wednesday morning.
Taifane, a junior football player at Grant, is a Samoan-American and dreams of one day playing in the NFL like Seau did for 20 years.
“A lot of inspiration for Samoan kids and Tongan kids to play ball,” he said.
And Taifane thinks the large number of football players with a Samoan background is in large part due to the success of Seau, one of the best linebackers in NFL history.
“He opened a lot of doors for kids back home in Samoa,” he said. “Their parents send them out here to play football.”
Junior Seau’s impact also extends beyond the football field.
Fred Toailoa, the pastor at a local Sacramento Samoan church, says Seau has been a source of pride for the tiny South Pacific islands, and the thousands with Samoan heritage in the Sacramento area.
“Junior is an icon. He was one who kind of put the little island out there,” Toailoa said.
Toailoa says this Saturday he’ll include Seau’s memory as part of his church service.
“I’m sure I’m going to mention to pray for the family,” he said. “Every Samoan church here in the area will do the same thing.”