Some 2,000 friends and family of NFL legend and former Charger Junior Seau gathered at in Oceanside on Friday.
“It was beautiful,” said Lauren Godinet, Junior's niece, of Friday's celebration of life.
Seau was found dead at his beachfront home on May 2.
Friday’s occasion filled with joy, he said, adding that eulogies by friends and family were held together by a common theme — her uncle’s smile.
Her father, Wilson, said the service was “positive and uplifting.”
“It just made you want to get closer to God,” he said.
The event featured island music and various professional football players attended, including John Lynch, Ronnie Lott and Sean Salisbury. Another memorial is taking place Friday at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and a paddle-out took place near Seau's home Sunday.
At Friday's Oceanside ceremony, Wilson saw relatives he hadn't seen for four decades.
“(Junior) brought a lot of us together,” he said.
Seau also brought together the Oceanside community, said Anthony Steel.
Seau’s free workouts, which ended about two years ago, inspired Steel to start his own. He remembers Seau as an accessible celebrity resident who was loved Oceanside.
“He grew up in the community and he was intertwined in it at a young age,” Steel said. “It was about family and it was about Oceanside.”
Before his death, Seau was continuing to bond with his family. Wilson, his cousin, had been teaching Seau to play the guitar.
Seau loved island music, he said, but he also had a fondness for country songs.
“We had to learn those too,” he said.
A significant lesson Wilson learned from the tragedy was hold people close while they’re here, he said, and to be more involved spiritually.
“You’re still here—still breathing,” he said. “Find God.”
—City News Service contributed to this report.