Video clips from Junior Seau's public memorial at Qualcomm Stadium Friday, May 11, 2012:
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Local sports hero Junior Seau was laid to rest in his native Oceanside Friday as fans made their way to Qualcomm Stadium for a public memorial service.
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 two of his 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.
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.
Admission and parking will be free and on a first-come, first-served basis. Water, soft drinks and food will be sold, but no alcohol.
A heavy-hitting lineup of former Chargers football players is expected at the tribute to the Oceanside High School alumnus. It includes quarterback Dan Fouts, Billy Ray Smith and running back LaDainian Tomlinson.
Other scheduled speakers include Bobby Ross, the head coach of the lone Chargers team to go to the Super Bowl; former Tampa Bay and Denver standout safety John Lynch; and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.
Miles McPherson, senior pastor at The Rock Church, will speak and serve as master of ceremonies. Shawn Mitchell, senior pastor at New Venture Christian Fellowship, will also be part of the program.
Both the Metropolitan Transit System and the North County Transit District increased service to accommodate the event. Qualcomm's parking opened at 2 p.m. and the stadium opened at 4:30 p.m., according to the Chargers.
It was not clear early Friday whether Seau's family has made a final decision as to whether to donate his brain to science. His suicide fueled speculation that athletes, particularly football players, who suffer repeated head trauma are at a greater risk for depression and other ailments, such as Alzheimer's disease.
On Thursday, the coroner's office released a statement, saying steps were taken to allow study of brain tissue if the family wishes.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Junior's honor to the Junior Seau Foundation Friday night at tables located around the Plaza Concourse.
Donations can also be mailed to:
The Junior Seau Foundation
5275 Market Street, Suite B
San Diego, CA 92114
Donations can also be made online at: www.juniorseau.org