Oceanside center dedicated to Junior Seau
The Samoan community, dignitaries and fans of the late football great gathered Saturday to give an Oceanside landmark a new name: the Junior Seau Beach Community Center.
The center, below the Oceanside Municipal Pier, is a longtime hub of youth athletic activity. It sits next to the recently renamed Junior Seau Pier Amphitheatre, both buildings mere steps from the beach the Chargers star enjoyed during his youth and after his NFL career ended.
The City Council voted to name both venues after Seau, who died May 2 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Saturday's ceremony brought hundreds together outside the community center to see the new sign unveiled. Seau was of Samoan descent, and the dedication ceremony was part of the Samoan Cultural Celebration that drew large crowds to the amphitheater all day.
At the celebration, awards were given to basketball players who participate in Junior's Juniors, a youth organization started and sustained by Seau.
"This is a special day, a remembrance of an icon, a hero not only in Oceanside but worldwide," Mayor Jim Wood said.
Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa, said Seau's spirit was still with the community.
"His spirit is here for generations to come," Faleomavaega said. "He was a simple island boy who wanted to make people happy. Let's celebrate Junior's life. Let's all be happy."
County Supervisor Bill Horn reminded the crowd of Seau's charity foundation, noting that the foundation had given more than $4 million to the community, much of that to youth programs.
Annette Seau-So'oto, Seau's sister, said the ceremony was another reminder of the effect her brother ---- 43 when he died ---- had on the community.
"I'm happy to see again how much the community admired Junior, and it makes me feel proud as his sister to see and hear how much he accomplished, what a wonderful legacy he left behind," she said. "The family is thankful to the city and the Samoan community for what happened here today."
Carrie Linden, an Oceanside resident and Seau fan who has attended other events honoring Seau, said his legacy was established in Oceanside.
"Even though he's gone, his memory is still alive because of all the things he did for kids," Linden said.