Posted Dec. 3, 2007 – Thousands gathered in Miami Monday to honor the memory of NFL player Sean Taylor, who died last week after being shot in a botched burglary.
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Family members, friends, his Washington Redskin teammates, other NFL players and a litany of former college teammates were among the 3,000 mourners who gathered at Florida International University’s Pharmed Arena, reports The Miami Herald. O.J. Simpson was also in attendance.
The Redskin organization had their own section, and current and former University of Miami football coaches sat in the front row.
After a photo slideshow featuring Taylor, attendees listened to words from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Coach Joe Gibbs, and many others, reports the newspaper.
"The NFL was proud of Sean Taylor,” Goodell said to attendees. He loved football and football loved him back. But more importantly, it was what he was as a man and what he was becoming as a man."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson reminded attendees that Taylor’s death is a sad sign of the times.
“Even champions live in danger,” said the Rev. Jackson. “None of us will say, even champions, that our homes are safe.”
Taylor’s 18-month old daughter, Jackie, wearing a red dress, made her way towards her father’s casket as her aunt, Carolina Garcia, talked about her sister, also named Jackie and Taylor’s relationship.
Large flower wreaths adorned Taylor’s closed casket, which was also partly covered by a burgundy and gold blanket (Redskin colors) and one wreath with orange and green carnations in the shape of a U, representing his college, the University of Miami.
Monday’s ceremony followed a weekend of NFL tributes which included a moment of silence observed before every NFL game, and the number 21 (Taylor's jersey number) on every player’s helmet. Washington Redskin players also had a black and white number 21 stitched onto their jerseys.
And since Taylor’s passing, Washington-area fans paid tribute to him by leaving flowers and teddy bears on a section of grass, emblazoned with his number 21, at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va.
The four young men -- Eric Rivera, 17; Charles Wardlow, 18; Jason Mitchell, 19 and Venjah Hunte, 20 -- charged in connection with his killing are in a Fort Myers, Fl jail and will be transported to Miami after Taylor’s funeral.