How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'Junior Seau meant so much to me and many other Samoan youth'

Junior Seau wasn't the first Samoan American player in the NFL, but he was considered a role model among many of those who followed him into pro football. Seau, 43, was found dead this afternoon in his Oceanside, Calif. home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

Born in San Diego to parents from American Samoa, Seau was a star linebacker who in his career played for the San Diego Chargers, the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. In 1994, he helped lead the Chargers to the Super Bowl. He retired in 2010 but remained an icon in his hometown, where last fall was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.

He's also one of a long line of Samoan American players in the NFL, several of whom followed Seau's career path from the USC Trojans to the professional teams.