OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- Former NFL star Junior Seau was found dead at his home Wednesday, authorities said.
Police Lt. Karen Laser confirmed the death and U-T San Diego reported that a 911 call came from the home at 10 a.m.
Wow shocked right now, I tapped Juniors picture every single day before heading out to practice at USC. R.I.P. to a legend n awesome person.
” -- Texans LB Brian Cushing on Junior Seau
Oceanside police chief Frank McCoy said Wednesday afternoon that a woman who identified herself as Seau's girlfriend said she discovered Seau with a gunshot wound to his chest. The spokesman said police found a handgun near Seau and the incident is being investigated as a suicide.
Seau was a standout linebacker with the University of Southern California before going to the San Diego Chargers, whom he led to the Super Bowl following the 1994 season.
"Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family," the team said in a statement.
Seau remained with the Chargers until 2003 and went on to play with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots before retiring after the 2009 season.
Seau's death sent ripples throughout the sports world.
"Wow shocked right now, I tapped Juniors picture every single day before heading out to practice at USC. R.I.P. to a legend n awesome person," Texans linebacker and fellow USC alumnus Brian Cushing wrote on his Facebook page.
In October 2010, Seau survived a 100-foot plunge down a seaside cliff in his SUV, hours after he was arrested for investigation of domestic violence at the Oceanside home he shared with his girlfriend. The woman had told authorities that Seau assaulted her during an argument.
There was no evidence of drugs or alcohol involved in the crash and Seau told authorities he fell asleep while driving. He sustained minor injuries.
Seau spent parts of 20 seasons in the NFL, including 1990-2002 with his hometown Chargers. He led them to their only Super Bowl appearance, was voted to a team-record 12 straight Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro six times.
He amassed 545 tackles, 56½ sacks and 18 interceptions in his career.
"Twenty years, to be part of this kind of fraternity, to be able to go out and play the game that you love, and all the lessons and the friends and acquaintances which you meet along the way, you can't be in a better arena," Seau said last August after the Chargers announced he would be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame.
Seau was with the Chargers from 1990, when he was the fifth pick overall in the draft out of Southern California, until being traded to the Miami Dolphins after the 2002 season. He came out of retirement a few times to play with the Patriots in search of a Super Bowl ring and was with the team when they lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl following the 2007 season, which ended New England's quest for a perfect season.