Some 2,000 friends and family of Junior Seau gathered at Calvary Chapel in Oceanside to remember the NFL legend.
“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 took place Friday at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
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.