The family of ex-San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau has decided to donate the football star's brain to scientific research on the long-term effects of repetitive brain trauma on NFL players.
"The family was considering this almost from the beginning, but they didn't want to make any emotional decisions and when they came to a joint decision that absolutely this was the best thing, it was a natural occurrence for the Seau family to go forward," Chargers team chaplain Shawn Mitchell told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.
"Junior was philanthropic and he got that from his mom and dad. Their hope is that it can serve athletes down the road," Mitchell added.
Seau, 43, committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest on Wednesday morning. On Thursday a complete autopsy was preformed and the cause of death was a ruled a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest by the San Diego County medical examiner.
The unexpected suicide of Seau is the eighth death for the Charger's 1994 Super Bowl team and is the second suicide to hit the NFL in the past two weeks. Ray Easterling, who played for the Atlanta Falcons during the 1970s, took his own life on April 19.
Although Seau was never listed as having a concussion during his duration in the NFL, friends and family told reporters that he had admitted to experiencing multiple traumas to his head. Scientists will explore if the effects of the concessions contributed to the football player's death.
Colleagues, friends, and family were all shocked at the news of Seau's unexpected suicide.
Neighbor Brian Ballis told the Los Angeles Times that he saw the football star sitting on the balcony of his Oceanside, San Diego residence on Tuesday playing the ukulele and looking happy.
"He was smiling and happy," Ballis told the Los Angeles Times, "and looking at the sky and looking at the waves."
Seau, born Tiaina Baul Seau to American Samoan parents, was a highly successful American football star whose career in the NFL spanned 20 years.
The football star began his career at the University of Southern California until he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers. He played for the Chargers for 13 seasons and later went on to play for the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. He retired from his professional football career in 2009.