Sad.” ”Hard to understand.” ”I’m shocked.” ”I just can’t imagine this.”

Those were some of the stunned reactions from people who knew Junior Seau (SAY’-ow) best. The former 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker was found dead at his Southern California home in what police are saying is an apparent suicide. Seau was 43.

Former Chargers GM Bobby Beathard said he never recalled Seau being “in a down frame of mind. He was always so upbeat and he would keep people up.”

His ex-wife Gina told the Union-Tribune San Diego that he texted her and each of their three children separate messages: “I love you.”

Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy says Seau’s girlfriend reported finding him unconscious with a gunshot wound to the chest. A gun was found near him, McCoy says.

Seau was a standout linebacker at the University of Southern California before starring in the NFL with the Chargers for 13 seasons as their fist-pumping, emotional leader. He remained with San Diego until 2003 before moving on to the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. He retired after the 2009 season.

Seau is the eighth member of the Chargers’ lone Super Bowl team in 1994 to die before their 45th birthday. Seau’s death follows the suicide last year of former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson, who also shot himself in the chest.

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