In this Aug. 14, 2006, file photo, former San Diego Chargers football player Junior Seau smiles during a news conference announcing his retirement from pro football in San Diego. Police say Seau was found dead at his home in Oceanside, Calif., Wednesday, May 2, 2012. He was 43. (AP Photo/Sandy Huffaker, File)
Oceanside paid tribute to San Diego Chargers icon Junior Seau Saturday at the annual Samoan Cultural Celebration by dedicating the community center and amphitheatre to the late hometown hero.
The Junior Seau Beach Community Center, renamed after Seau, was officially unveiled at the cultural event.
Seau’s parents and sister attended the dedication ceremony, along with hundreds of local fans.
Seau – a Samoan-American from Oceanside – was active in the community and a major figure in local Samoan cultural events and fundraisers.
His sister, Annette Seau So-oto, told NBC 7 San Diego that the family is “overwhelmed” by the continued outpouring of love for Seau in the community.
“I wish my brother was here to see. He's looking down on us right now, and he's very thrilled. The family is overwhelmed and appreciates the thought, gesture, the city has put upon Oceanside; being able to recognize my brother and have respect,” said Seau So-oto.
Seau’s family also wished to extend a heartfelt thank you to the hundreds of fans who showed up to the dedication to pay their respects. They also urged fans to continue celebrating Seau’s life.
“Everybody loved him dearly. I'm not sure he knew home much he was loved, but he was definitely loved. Not only in Oceanside, but the whole world loved him,” said Seau So-oto.
The community center dedication was part of a week-long Samoan festival in Oceanside. Saturday’s ceremony also honored other local Samoans who have died over the past year.