Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that by invitation of the Se’au family, he will be speaking during the final funeral service for Junior Se’au this Friday in Oceanside, California. Funeral plans for Junior Se’au, according to the family, include a private viewing and family service this evening, May 10, and final service on Friday, May 11, followed with burial at Eternal Hills in Oceanside. Following the burial, the Chargers organization and the City of San Diego will open Qualcomm Stadium to pay a special tribute to Junior Se’au who played for 20 seasons in the NFL, including 13 for the San Diego Chargers. The event will be open to the public.
“Junior Se’au’s sudden death was a tragedy that shocked everyone who knew and admired him. I was very saddened upon hearing news of Junior’s passing,” Faleomavaega said. “I want to thank Junior’s parents, Tiaina and Luisa, and the Se’au family for inviting me to speak at Junior’s final service on Friday. I am honored to have been given the opportunity to pay tribute so such a special young man and son of American Samoa.”
“As family, friends, teammates, and fans gather to pay respects to Junior this week, and as the country mourns the loss of this truly inspirational young leader and Samoan man, I would like to extend to all, especially to Junior’s parents and children, our heartfelt sympathy on behalf of Samoans everywhere” Faleomavaega continued.
“For a Samoan boy with roots in a small place called American Samoa to become an NFL superstar and national icon is a remarkable feat that I felt it important for me to also pay a special tribute to Junior in the House Chamber – to acknowledge some of his outstanding achievements and major contributions to society and people of Samoa,” Faleomavaega said.
On Wednesday, May 9, 2012, one week after Se’au’s death, Congressman Faleomavaega delivered a speech on the House Floor, paying a special tribute to Junior Se’au. Next, on his right and displayed prominently on an easel on the House Floor, was a poster-sized photo of Junior Se’au with Faleomavaega and Paramount Chief, Afioga i le Maoputasi Mauga of Pago Pago, American Samoa. The photo was taken in 2006 during the annual celebration marking the relationship between Pago Pago, American Samoa and Oceanside, California as sister-cities that was attended by both Afioga Mauga and Faleomavaega.
Following is the complete text of Faleomavaega’s speech on the House Floor.
I rise today with deep sympathy in order to offer my condolences to the family and friends of a beloved, son, father, brother, uncle, leader, a dear friend, an NFL Great and a son of American Samoa, Junior Seau, whose life ended tragically on the morning of May 2nd, 2012 in Oceanside, California.
It is a very sad time for not only the national sports world but also for our Polynesian community. We have lost a Samoan brother who was an icon in football and a pioneer for many of our Polynesian sons who are in the National Football League today. A beautiful life has come to a tragic end, yet we remember Junior as a young man full of life, a charismatic leader able to light up any room, a devoted son and father and community leader. We remember the strength of this unique individual, a true Samoan warrior.
Junior Seau was born Tiaina Baul Seau Jr. on January 19, 1969 in San Diego, California to American Samoan parents, Mr. Tiaina Seau, Sr. of the village of Aunu’u, and Mrs. Luisa Mauga Seau of the village of Aoa. After Junior was born, the family returned to American Samoa where Junior would grow up for several years before returning to the San Diego area.
Junior attended Oceanside High School where he lettered in football, basketball, as well as track and field for the Oceanside Pirates. In football, he was a starter at linebacker and tight end and received numerous awards for his achievements as a student-athlete. In 1987, the year he graduated, Parade Magazine selected Seau to its high school All-American team. He was also named California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) San Diego Section Defensive Player of the Year, All-North County, Avocado League Offensive Player of the Year, as well as being named to California’s all-academic team with a 3.6 grade-point average.
After graduating high school, Seau played for the University of Southern California Trojans from 1987 to 1990, and in 2009 would be inducted into the USC Hall of Fame.
In the 1990 NFL Draft, Junior was drafted in the First Round and 5th Overall Pick by the San Diego Chargers. Seau immediately became the heart and soul of the Chargers defense, earning the nickname "Tasmanian Devil" for his passion and explosive athletic skill on the field. In the locker room and on the field, Seau had an innate ability to motivate his teammates. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1998 and 1999 and was voted the Chargers’ Most Inspirational Player in 1997 and 2002.
Junior played in 12 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1991 to 2002, the most of any player in Chargers history and tied for the third-longest streak ever in the NFL. He was also selected All-Pro six times in his career and he led the Chargers to their first ever Super Bowl appearance in 1995.
After 13 years in San Diego, he played three years for the Miami Dolphins where he received the Miami Dolphins’ Don Shula Leadership Award for two consecutive years. After only one day of retirement in 2006, he answered the call by the New England Patriots and became Defensive Co-Captain during the Patriots’ 18-0 season that took the team to the Super Bowl in 2008. Junior finally retired in 2010, having played 20 seasons in the NFL and finishing with a career 1,849 tackles, 56.5 sacks, 18 interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 21 pass deflections.
Junior Seau is widely acknowledged as one of the best linebackers in NFL history, but his passion and success in football was paralleled in his community involvement and in his work off the field.
In 1992, Junior established the Junior Seau Foundation, giving San Diego-area youth ongoing support for programs that inspire them to face life’s challenges with enthusiasm, hope, and dignity. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed nearly $4 million to organizations providing services to children and young adults, including over $800,000 in scholarships through the Scholars of Excellence program and over $330,000 in Junior’s “Shop with A Jock” program, which provides for underprivileged youth to shop alongside a professional or college athlete for Christmas gifts for their families. In April 2007, the Wall Street Journal ranked the Junior Seau Foundation as the 13th largest Professional Athlete Foundation based on assets.
As much as he was an outstanding football player, Junior will also be remembered as a humanitarian, as a supporter for those who needed help the most, as a dear friend, and as a motivational figure. He was a charismatic leader who could not walk into a room without having an effect on those around him. He was loved by everyone who knew him, and his magnetism both on and off the field impacted people nationwide and any individual he encountered.
When one speaks of Samoans in the NFL, Mr. Speaker, Junior Seau is one of the first names that come to mind. Junior was an ambassador for Asian and Pacific American, and through his success he was able to broaden the public’s understanding and appreciation of our Polynesian people. Reaching the NFL is a dream of many young men, but Junior Seau gave young Samoan men an image of success in the league – something that they could aspire to.
In closing today, I would like to offer words of comfort to the Seau family, especially Mr. Tiaina Seau Sr. and Mrs. Luisa Seau, Junior’s parents, as well as Junior’s children, his siblings, and his extended family, or as we say in Samoan, his aiga.
In the Book of Romans, Chapter 12, Verse 15 we are called to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” In all of Junior’s amazing accomplishments throughout his life, we have rejoiced with the Seau family, sharing your joy. And now in this time of great sorrow, we stand with you, though with heavy hearts, sharing in your grief.
Ia manuia lau faigamalaga Junior.