Junior Seau's family has filed a lawsuit against the NFL over brain injuries the Chargers legend sustained during his career -- injuries they claim caused him to kill himself.
The family filed the wrongful death lawsuit today in San Diego, claiming the league willfully hid the truth about the dangers of repetitive blows to the head ... such as those regularly sustained by professional football players.
According to the lawsuit, Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from those hits -- a condition that his family claims drove him to suicide.
The Seau family is also suing NFL helmet manufacturer Riddell -- calling the helmets dangerous and claiming the company was "negligent in their design."
Seau died last May after shooting himself in the chest. He was 43.
The Seau lawsuit is just one of a reported 175 lawsuits filed against the NFL by players and their families over head injuries sustained during their careers.
After filing the lawsuit, the family released a statement, saying, "We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior. But it will send a message that the NFL needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations."
The NFL hasn't responded to the lawsuit -- but after it was revealed Seau had CTE, the league released a statement, saying, "The NFL ... is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels."
NFL Star Had Brain Disease
from Hits to Head
1/10/2013 5:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Junior Seau was living with a degenerative brain disease caused by the brutal shots to the head he took during his NFL career, this according to a new study ... and Seau's family believes the condition drove him to suicide.
The National Institutes of Health released the findings of the study scientists did on Seau's brain after he shot himself in the chest last year ... and concluded Junior suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease typically caused by multiple hits to the head.
Dr. Russell Lonser -- who led the study of Seau's brain -- told ABC News patients with CTE display symptoms "such as impulsivity, forgetfulness, depression, [and] sometimes suicidal ideation."
Several Seau family members are speaking out about the findings of the study -- Junior's ex-wife told ABC News, "He was a warrior and he loved the game ... but I know that he didn't love the end of his life."
When Junior's 23-year-old son Tyler was asked if his father's career was "worth it" -- he replied, "It's not worth it for me to not have a dad ... so to me, it's not worth it."
FYI -- Junior played 20 years in the NFL.
Chargers Retire No. 55
During Emotional Tribute
9/16/2012 8:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The San Diego Chargers honored the memory of Junior Seau today before their home opener against the Tennessee Titans and officially retired the NFL superstar's jersey -- No. 55.
Seau's parents and children were down on the field during the emotional tribute -- which was officiated by legendary Chargers QB Dan Fouts.
Fouts said, "There is only one Junior Seau and only one 55 ... and they belong together forever.”
Seau played 13 seasons with the Chargers and was selected for 12 Pro-bowl appearances.
Seau was found dead in his home on May 2 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 43.
Family to Attend Tribute
at Chargers Home Opener
9/6/2012 3:30 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The San Diego Chargers will honor the memory of fallen NFL superstar Junior Seau during their home opener on Sunday Sept. 16 ... and TMZ has learned his entire family will be on hand to witness the ceremony.
A rep for the Chargers tells us ... Junior's mother, father, ex-wife, 4 children and other family members will be the guests of honor during a pre-game ceremony dedicated to Seau ... the greatest Chargers linebacker of all-time.
We're told the team will officially retire Junior's #55 jersey during the ceremony ... and the family will be presented with a special "surprise gift" from the organization.
The team will also debut the special #55 helmet sticker, which each Chargers player will wear during the game.
As we previously reported, Junior Seau was found dead in his San Diego home on May 2nd from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
He was 43 years old.
Junior Seau Autopsy
No Drugs, No Alcohol
8/20/2012 2:03 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Junior Seau was completely sober when he shot himself in the chest back in May ... and his cause of death has been ruled as a suicide ... this according to the San Diego medical examiner.
TMZ obtained the autopsy report, filed by Deputy Medical Examiner Craig Nelson ... which shows Seau died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest from a .357 caliber revolver on May 2, 2012.
The report also shows "No alcohol, common drugs of abuse, or other medications were detected."
However, a small amount of Zolpidem (aka ambien) and Naproxen (an anti-inflammatory) were detected ... but the M.E. says test results were "consistent with therapeutic use."
The report notes that Seau's brain tissue was sent to the National Institutes of Health at the request of his family.
According to the report, Junior did not leave a suicide note.
Death House for Sale
7/25/2012 1:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The San Diego house in which NFL legend Junior Seau killed himself has been put up for sale.
The 2,200 sq. ft. beachfront property was listed yesterday for $2.3 million. It has 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.
The realtor tells TMZ, he plans to sell the house before the end of summer -- and WILL be informing prospective buyers about the famous suicide that took place inside the home on May 3rd.
Seau originally purchased the place back in 2005 for a little over $3 million. It's unclear who's currently living in the home, if anyone.
Junior Seau Memorial
Casket Hits the Road
5/11/2012 12:30 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Junior Seau's private memorial -- attended by close friends, family, and former teammates -- is now over ... and the NFL legend's casket is currently en route to a San Diego cemetery for burial.
As we reported, the burial is scheduled for 1pm. A public memorial will take place later tonight at 6:30pm at Qualcomm Stadium, home of the Chargers.
TMZ broke the story ... Junior was found dead in his California home on May 2nd after shooting himself in the chest.
WWE Legend Goldberg
Arrives at Memorial
5/11/2012 10:55 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
WWE star Bill Goldberg just showed up to Junior Seau's memorial in Oceanside, CA ... showing signs of encouragement.
On his way in, Bill told us, "Nobody will ever understand the positive difference that Junior made to this community and the world."
When Junior died, Bill tweeted he had played with the NFL legend in a charity golf tournament just the day before.
Sad day....Played in a Charity Golf tournament yesterday with Junior and now he's gone. RIP my friend. Please say a prayer for him.— Bill Goldberg (@Goldberg) May 2, 2012
Junior's private memorial service is currently underway -- with only close family and friends in attendance.
Junior's scheduled to be buried at 1pm. As TMZ first reported, Junior was found dead in his California home on May 2nd after shooting himself in the chest.
Junior Seau Fans
'Paddle Out' to Honor Him
5/6/2012 2:54 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Junior Seau was honored today when more than 1,000 people "paddled out" in the ocean to pay their respects to the NFL legend.
The water-based memorial took place in Oceanside, CA this afternoon -- directly in front of his beachfront home -- and allowed friends, neighbors and locals to mourn the superstar together. Surfers were heard chanting his name and jersey number as they gathered in the ocean.
Seau was known to be an avid surfer.
Seau died Wednesday from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the chest. He was 43.
The Real World Was Too
Much For Junior Seau
5/5/2012 8:57 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Junior Seau fell victim to a problem encountered by many former pro athletes -- post-career depression -- this according to former pro athlete-turned-actor Rick Fox.
Fox tells TMZ, retiring from a professional sport leads to a massive shift in lifestyle -- from glorified hero to relative anonymity -- and for some players, the change is too tough to handle.
Fox tells us, "At the end of the day [Junior] shot himself in the chest, which is the heart, and a lot of people die of a broken heart when they leave the game."
Fox adds, "The real world is a rough place, man ... Depression is real."
Junior Seau's Family
Planning Public Memorial
5/5/2012 6:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Junior Seau's family met yesterday to begin planning a public memorial for the football legend ... TMZ has learned.
Sources close to the Seaus tell TMZ, they want to give grieving fans the opportunity to honor his life and his career in the presence of each other.
We're told the public memorial -- to be held somewhere in California -- will take place separate from the family's private Oceanside memorial, specifically to give fans the opportunity to mourn together.
A date for the public memorial has yet to be set. The private memorial will be held Sunday.
Seau died Wednesday in Oceanside, CA. He was 43 years old.
The Frantic 911 Call
'My BF Just Shot Himself'
5/4/2012 1:13 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
TMZ has obtained the horrific 911 call placed by Junior Seau's girlfriend moments after the NFL legend shot himself in the chest Wednesday morning at his Oceanside, CA home.
Junior's GF Megan Noderer (below) is so hysterical during the call she can hardly speak -- claiming she had just returned from the gym (around 10AM) when she discovered Junior's bloody body.
Megan tells the dispatcher, Junior wasn't breathing when she arrived and had appeared to have shot himself "in the heart."
Authorities responded and attempted to revive Seau, but life-saving efforts were unsuccessful. Seau was pronounced dead on the scene soon after. He was 43.
Seau's family claims he exhibited no signs of depression before his death -- but has since donated his brain to be studied for concussion research.
As we previously reported, the manner in which Seau killed himself -- gunshot to the chest -- is leading many to believe he wanted to leave his brain intact so researchers could study the long-term effects of concussions sustained in the NFL.
Junior Seau's Family
We WILL Donate His Brain
5/4/2012 5:33 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Junior Seau's family will donate the NFL legend's brain to be studied for concussion research ... a rep for the family has announced.
San Diego Chargers team chaplain Shawn Mitchell told The L.A. Times, "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."
The family has NOT decided which research center will get Seau's brain -- but the two leading candidates are the Sports Legacy Institute at Boston University and the Brain Injury Research Institute.
As we previously reported, Seau apparently commited suicide by shooting himself in the chest -- leading many to believe he wanted to leave his brain intact so researchers could study the long-term effects of concussions sustained in the NFL.
43-year-old Seau played in the league for 20 years.