Our KPBS 89.5 stream and Classical San Diego stream will be offline for network maintenance today.
We hear from two men who knew Junior through his career and charity work.
May 3, 2012 1:05 p.m.
Alan Kidd, President, San Diego Hall of Champions
Mike Hollins, Area Director, Boys & GIrls Club of Oceanside
Related Story: Many Questions After Junior Seau's Death
CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, it's Thursday, May 3rd. Our top story on Midday Edition, the shocking death of Junior Seau is being felt by fans and friends around San Diego. Flower tributes and notes have been left by fans at his Oceanside home, and the restaurant that bears his name in mission valley. Oceanside police reportedly found no suicide note, but they are calling Seau's fatal shooting self-inflicted. 1†man who knew him at his best is Allan Kidd, president. The San Diego hall of champions in Balboa Park. I spoke with him shortly after the news of Seau's death broke yesterday.
Your association with Seau goes way back. How long?
KIDD: Well, I first moved here in the late 70s, and I saw junior participate as a high school athlete. And he was one of those athletes on the field that was a man among boys. And it wasn't just football. What a lot of people may have forgotten is that not only was he the prep athlete of the year in football in San Diego high school that year, but he was a prep athlete of the year in basketball. And he took his basketball team to the championships and he was a very, very aggressive basketball player just like he was a football player. And my guess is, when you see someone that big, with that kind of athletic skills, he's probably going to be good in just about any of the sports he chose to participate in.
CAVANAUGH: You used an interesting phrase, a man among boys. Was it just because of his size? What else about him made you think that?
KIDD: Well, just my personal observation over the years, being around sports, one of the great differentiators, as you progress through sports, one of the big things is that separates people is speed and quickness. And he was bigger, faster, and quicker than anybody around him. And he was more physically developed as a high school athlete than most kids around him. So he had a real competitive advantage.
CAVANAUGH: Now, as you mention, Junior Seau is and was a hometown hero, grew up in Oceanside, came back to play for the Chargers. What do you think his legacy is to San Diego sports?
KIDD: Well, I think within his community, his Samoan community, and within the Oceanside community, he is revered as one of the couple greatest people of all times up there. And he gave back a lot. I think in that part of the city and the region, he is just going to be revered as a God. Within the San Diego City proper, for many years when he was a player, he was one that they said had a big engine. He was running all the time. He was fast, revved up, excitable. And he carried that opposition into what he did in the off-season. So he was always a favorite among the philanthropic community to not only come and participate in what they did, because he carried an aura around him. And people liked to hang out with him. It's almost like the Hollywood stars, people just love hanging out with people who are that way. Any great athlete or person has their times that they get gruff and tough. And he had his times when he was either injured or things not going the way he wanted where he could be a little more difficult. But it's no different than anybody else. But in general, the San Diego community, the philanthropic community, has really last a champion, and an embarrass door for the City of San Diego.
CAVANAUGH: Where are you to mark his death with the hall of champions in Balboa Park?
KIDD: At this point, we will always make our building available. We have had a number of memorial services for athletes and for businesses leaders who like to have the analogy to sport. Junior would certainly be welcome if that's something that they're interested to do that. My guess is that our space, which holds 800 to 1,000 people may be too small. I don't know the kind of outpouring that could happen. And plus the Chargers I'm sure are going to want to weigh in and consider doing something for the community.
CAVANAUGH: This death is made even sadder of course knowing that Junior Seau apparently took his own life. And I'm wondering, as a longtime friend, a longtime colleague, what is your reaction to this news?
KIDD: Well, I'm shocked. Anybody that you know that has so much passion and energy, he must have had a really down time. Of he's been a bit more reclusive lately. I hadn't seen him out kind of on the circuit, you know, out there in a lot of the events and things. And I think some of the time that he was putting out with some of his youth endeavors seemed to be less and less. So you never know what kind of gray or black hole is inside someone's mind at that time, and there must have been an awful lot weighing on him for him to consider doing something like this.
CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you very much for speaking with us. Allen Kidd, president of the San Diego hall of champions. Thanks.
KIDD: Thank you very much.
CAVANAUGH: I'd like to invite our listeners to join this conversation about the impact of the loss of Junior Seau on the San Diego community. My next guest is Mike Hollins, area director of the boys and girls club of Oceanside. I read that Junior Seau started coming into the club when junior was 10 years old. Did you know him then?
HOLLINS: Oh, yeah. I remember him very well. I remember he would always come in with his cousins. They were really involved in sports. They loved basketball. And they were kind of like the dominant kids of the club, the ones everybody looked up to. And junior with his intense self would play basketball all day long and just enjoy the club as a kid. I remember.
CAVANAUGH: How are you doing with the news of his death?
HOLLINS: Oh, I'm very sad. It's like a shock. I'm still numb about it. I don't really know how to react to it because I don't know all the details of what happened. But when I heard the news I was just like everybody else, I was in shock because to me, Junior Seau was just like he is to the kid, like a super man. You don't think somebody like that would take his own life.
CAVANAUGH: You're area director of boys and girls club of Oceanside. Junior had a lifelong association with that club. How actively did he participate in club activities?
HOLLINS: Well, he would come around very often, not so much recently, but I remember we used to come around and come to the weight room. He actually built that fitness center across the street, and the music and teen center was donated by junior. I would see him over there working out, and he would come over from time to time to shoot basketball. One of my greatest memories of junior is when he came back from college, when he was about to go to the NFL, I played him one-on-one in basketball. And I beat him.
[ LAUGHTER ]
HOLLINS: So I didn't want to play him again, so I said I'll take the one victory and run, so that's one of my fondest memories of junior. And just being around the kids, and seeing him work out, it was just a pleasure to know him.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How closely did you all up there follow his pro career?
HOLLINS: Well, I'm a Chargers fan, dye hard Chargers fan. So when we got him, I was so happy. Because we needed a player of his caliber. And you guys see the way he played. He played the same way in college. I remember when he played football, he was the same type of player at Oceanside high school, very intense, in tune with the game, and dominant on the field just because of his athletic ability. So I knew we were getting a special player.
CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering, you know, you are a sports fan, I don't follow sports very closely. And I knew about Junior Seau. Everybody in the community knew about Junior Seau, whether they followed the Chargers or not.
HOLLINS: Oh, yeah, he was just that type of person. He was outgoing, would never say no to people. I remember being invited to his restaurant many a times, and he was just that type of person that just loved people, people loved him. You just liking around him.
CAVANAUGH: Now, what do you think he got out of interacting with the kids at the Oceanside club?
HOLLINS: Well, like I said, he was a member of the club, so he kind of probably felt what they felt. He came from the neighborhoods that those kids came from. So I think he just wanted to let them know that you can make it, despite your surroundings, and what you're going against. He just wanted to give back to the kids and let them know that he was approachable, that even though he was this big superstar everybody was seeing on TV, he was still junior. That's why I think he used to come around the kids and do a lot of stuff for the kids just so he could give back to the community.
CAVANAUGH: What were their reactions though to him? I would imagine that -- Allen HOLLINS said that some people almost treated him like he was a God, you said a super man. I guess he always caused a bit of a commotion when he made an appearance there.
[ LAUGHTER ]
HOLLINS: The fender center is over across the street from the club, and you would see him pull up in his SUV or something like that, he would get out, and all the kids that would see him would be outside, they would stop in their tracks, oh, that's junior! Because of his publicity, you know, he's all over television, radio, and he would wear his funny little hats. And we didn't want to bother him when he was doing his workouts, but he would come across the street and talk to the kids when he had time.
CAVANAUGH: After all of this, after this close association, after being such an icon in the community of Oceanside, and at the Oceanside boys and girls club, how is your community dealing with this? Have you been talking to anybody? Have you seen any kind of -- how people are reacting?
HOLLINS: Well, I've talked to a few people, some close friends. I haven't really talked to any family members. They're in their grieving point right now. But I have talked to friends of mine that were around about the same time junior was around at the boys and girls club, and they're still in shock. A lot of people still can't believe it. I can't believe it. And like I said, it's a numb feeling that you have. You don't really know how to react. We don't know all the answers, we don't know exactly what happened. We know reports say this, reports say that. So right now, people are just in shock, you know, there's a lot of people grieving real hard right now. There are still a lot of supporters down at the beach. There's a memorial in front of his house there. So I think people are just numb from the whole situation.
CAVANAUGH: I suppose the fact that it is being investigated as a suicide is making this more difficult to.
HOLLINS: When anybody takes their own life, we don't know what to do. It's not like he died of a sickness or anything like that. People don't have answers for that. So I think a lot of people are just waiting to find out the facts before they comment on anything, about what really happened, what junior is going through. Of and my heart goes out to his family right now. People just -- we just don't want know. People just don't have answers right now.
CAVANAUGH: Are you at the Oceanside boys and girls club, thinking about anything to do to maybe help the kids get through this really emotional time over the death of Junior Seau?
HOLLINS: Yeah, yesterday we really kind of kept things mum a little bit to let everything just sink in. But we do have some intervention things we're going to be doing with the kids just to let them know everything is going to be okay. Because he was a hero to so many of the kids who looked up to him. So we just want them to be able to grieve, and to be able to help them, and open our arms to them.
CAVANAUGH: How are you going to remember junior?
HOLLINS: Oh! I have so many memories of junior. I think when we used to do -- we still do it, are the shop for the jock thing that his foundation sponsors, I think that's junior at his finest. He gets up there on the stage with the microphone, they play the music, and he gets all the crowd and the kids dancing and everything like that, and I'm going to middle that a lot. He would always point us out and say you guys better dance! So they would dance really hard for him. So I'm going to miss him at those functions, and it's just very sad.
CAVANAUGH: Mike, I know that it wasn't easy for you to come in today, and talk about this, and I really appreciate that you did it. Thank you.
>> My pleasure.