Nine years ago today, Washington Redskins Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor died from complications resulting from a gun shot to the leg by an armed intruder in his Florida home.
At only 24-years-old, Taylor was emerging as one of the NFL’s top players at the time of his murder. Taylor’s death came not only as a tragedy to those around the NFL but to the entire city of Miami, where Taylor was considered royalty. The southern Florida city that built Taylor eventually tore him down.
Born in Miami during 1983 to parents Pedro Taylor and Donna Junor, Taylor began his ascent to Miami stardom at Gulliver Preparatory School. While at Gulliver, Taylor helped win a Florida Class 2A State Championship in 2000 by dominating on both sides of the ball. During Gulliver’s state championship run, Taylor gained 1,400 rushing yards, with over 100 tackles and a state-record 44 touchdowns.
Taylor earned multiple accolades for his career at Gulliver including being named the number one football prospect in Miami-Dade County by the Miami Herald and a number one ranking as the nation’s best skill player by Super Prep. In 2007, Taylor was post-humorously named to the Florida High School Association All-Century Team which listed the 33 best players in Florida high school football history.
Taylor cemented his legacy within southern Florida football by choosing to play collegiately at the University of Miami during what would be one of the golden eras in Hurricane football.
In Taylor’s freshmen season, he contributed as one of only four true freshmen on the team, helping the Hurricanes win a national championship. Taylor’s sophomore season again resulted in a national championship appearance, this time losing in the Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State. During his sophomore season, Taylor saw his role on the Hurricane’s increase as he led the Miami secondary in interceptions, pass deflections, and tackles. Taylor built on his sophomore year success with a historic junior season. In what would be Taylor’s last season as a Miami Hurricane, he was named a first-team All-American, chosen as the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and led the NCAA in interceptions. Taylor was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
In the 2004 NFL Draft, Taylor was selected fifth overall by the Washington Redskins. Taylor instantly became a fan favorite with the Redskins because of his talent, passion, and hard-hitting play. Taylor worked his way into a starting role during his rookie year, finishing with four interceptions. After steady improvement throughout his young career, Taylor made the Pro Bowl in 2006. Taylor played nine games in 2007 before his death, he was voted to the Pro Bowl post-humorously after the season.
Even while in Washington, Taylor’s ties to the city of Miami remained strong, for better or worse. Throughout his NFL career, Taylor donated to charities in Miami and used his wealth to give back to people in his city.
Despite his charitable ways and love for his city, in many ways, the violence that dominated the mean streets that Taylor grew up on followed him through his NFL career. In 2005, Taylor was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon by the Miami-Dade police.
As reported by the Washington Post, allegedly, Taylor’s wealth and exposure in Miami made him a target for the home invasion on November 26, 2007, that killed him.
While Taylor was in his Miami home nursing an injury during the 2007 season, armed intruders broke into Taylor’s house and shot him in the upper leg. The gunshot severed Taylor’s femoral artery, causing a mortal wound. Taylor died in a Miami hospital hours after the invasion.
Taylor was killed defending his longtime girlfriend Jackie Garcia and his 18-month-old daughter Jackie Taylor.
In a different world, Taylor would currently be at the tail-end of a hall of fame career, almost ready to retire to his beloved city, where he would continue to give back to Miami and raise his family in the city that raised him.
[Featured Image by Nick Wass/AP Images]