When Junior Seau was honored at the annual Salute to Champions dinner held Monday night, his ex-wife and children were there on his behalf. They're the true legacy of Junior Seau. Here they're accepting the plaque on their father's behalf with NBC 7's Sports Director Jim Laslavic.
The late Chargers great Junior Seau joined a handful of big-name athletes who were inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions Breitbard Hall of Fame Monday night.
Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May.
His career was honored at the annual Salute to Champions dinner held Monday night at Town and Country Convention Center.
In a rare public appearance, his ex-wife and children were there on his behalf.
They're the true legacy of Junior Seau.
Four children honoring their father on a stage under the bright lights - a place Junior always thrived.
His 17-year NFL career got its beginnings on the football field at Oceanside High School.
Through his career as a San Diego Charger, Seau was voted to 12 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1991 to 2002.
After his retirement from professional football in 2009, Seau returned to San Diego where he continued to interact with fans at his Mission Valley restaurant.
He''ll soon have a plaque at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.
It’s an honor his family says was bittersweet.
"It's just difficult for them to come and be here in his absence and be here to accept an award we wish he was here to accept," said Junior’s ex-wife Gina Seau.
Gina Seau attended with an unwanted spotlight brought on by the star linebacker's death and her pursuit of legal action against the NFL.
The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in January that blames the NFL for hiding the dangers of repetitive blows to the head.
The lawsuit says Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from those hits, and accuses the NFL of deliberately ignoring and concealing evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries.
While so many un-asked and un-answered questions linger Monday was a night about the life of Junior, nothing more.
"Anytime I go through Oceanside, I think of Junior and all the things he was able to accomplish here in San Diego," said former San Diego Padres pitcher Trevor Hoffman who was also inducted into the Hall of Fame Monday.
Chargers CEO A.G. Spanos said the team retired Junior’s number last year and inducted him into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 2011.
"If you were to create a football Mount Rushmore for San Diego, Junior would be absolutely on it," Spanos said.
As a video tribute played - some called the night therapeutic.
Spanos said the tribute is part of the healing process for the community.
“There are mixed emotions,” Spanos said recalling the former player’s warm smile. “Obviously his passing was as tragic as it gets. So bittersweet is a good way to put it.”
"We'll always be a part of this community and grateful and thankful for what Junior gave to the community and what the community has done for him quite honestly," Gina Seau said.
A chance to remember the athlete who loved San Diego and who San Diego loved right back.
The inductees made up one of the strongest classes ever to enter the Hall of Champions at one time.
Along with Junior Seau, Sockers star Brian Quinn was honored. Quinn who played on the team from 1983-1991 returned as its coach from 2001-2004. He's currently an assistant coach at the University of San Diego and a director of the San Diego Soccer Club.
Three-time Super Bowl guard Steven Neal also entered the Hall because of his wrestling credentials while a student at San Diego High.