Junior Seau becomes first standup paddler to reach the Football Hall of Fame! Sadly, Junior is no longer with us.
Standup Journal’s tribute to Junior Seau comes from his friend, fellow paddler and guitar player Kevin Kinnear, who shot this photo of Junior:
“You know him as a multiple-time Pro Bowl NFL star, but you may not know that my friend Junior Seau was also a very avid surfer and sup paddler, thanks to the man who inspired him: surf legend Donald Takayama (who died a few years ago). Right after Junior retired from the Chargers we became close friends.
“Junior loved life and threw himself fully into everything he tried to do. I first met him when I was still the general manager of Buffalo Bros. Guitars in Carlsbad, CA.
“About the time he’d first retired from the Chargers and my surfboard shaper and good friend Donald Takayama gave Junior his first surfboard. Then later on, Donald also gave Junior his first standup paddleboard. Junior was totally stoked and quickly caught on to both new sports, loving catching waves near Carlsbad and paddling the flatwater of our local lagoon.
“The same stoke occured when he encountered his first ukulele. I’d tried for years to get him a really good steel string guitar to replace the basic models he had leaning against the wall at home with no luck. Then I suggested he get a classical guitar because of the wider neck that might fit his gigantic hands, but he never did.
“Then all of the sudden Junior appears one day with a gorgeous all-Koa Kanile’a ukulele. I was blown away that his huge fingers could even play it. Junior got totally immersed into playing ukulele and singing along.
“Whenever I’d go by his house at the beach to surf, he’d be strumming with a big smile on his face. I’ll always remember him that way as one of the most positive people I’ve ever met who really knew how to live life to the fullest and share the joy with others.
“Junior was an inspiration to all of us who were lucky enough to hang out and paddle and play music with him. There will never be anyone else like Junior Seau.”