NFL Star Sean Taylor Dies After Shooting

Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor dies a day after he was shot in the leg after an apparent break-in at his home. He never regained consciousness after losing a great deal of blood. Taylor was 24.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Let's hear more now about the death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. He was 24 years old, the defensive back for the Redskins, and he was shot at his home yesterday in Miami, Florida. Reportedly the shooter was an intruder in the home.

NPR's Tom Goldman is covering this story.

And Tom, how did he die? There was some home that he might recover from this leg wound.

TOM GOLDMAN: There was, Steve. After several hours of surgery earlier in the day, Sean Taylor had been unresponsive. But then there were reports later last night that he had squeezed the hand of a doctor or a nurse in response to prompting and that he'd shown some facial expressions. But the hope was premature. He reportedly was shot in the upper thigh near his femoral artery, causing massive blood loss. There were concerns that he'd suffer brain damage from the lack of oxygen, or worse. And the worst happened, as he died early this morning.

INSKEEP: And as doctors worked unsuccessfully to save him, police were trying to figure out what happened.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, Miami-Dade Police Department not giving any details. They're investigating it as a possible home invasion. According to Taylor's attorney, Taylor and his fiancée were awakened by a noise in their home. And he went to investigate and was shot. The fiancée and an infant daughter in the house were not injured.

Police are looking into possible connections between the shooting and a break-in at his home just eight days before.

INSKEEP: People are going to be asking though, who would want to shoot and kill this football player? What kind of a person was he?

GOLDMAN: Well, we know him mainly as a football player, and he was a good one. He'd been a star at the University of Miami. He was drafted in the first round by the Washington Redskins in 2004. He was always a hard-hitting, aggressive - very aggressive defensive player, which sometimes led to erratic play, blown coverages on the field.

Assistant Coach Greg Williams of the Redskins often called Taylor the best athlete he'd ever coach, but it was also frustrating for the coaches. Taylor, according to Associated Press statistics, led the NFL in missed tackles in 2006. But he still made the Pro Bowl that year, last year, basically on the reputation - his reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the NFL. But this year his talent really started to take over. He was among the league leaders in interceptions. Before he injured his knee and was forced to sit out the last couple of games.

INSKEEP: When you described him as aggressive, would that also describe his behavior off the field?

GOLDMAN: Well, sometimes it did. In 2005, he was involved in an incident in which he allegedly brandished a gun during a dispute. Now, there was a long legal case around this and he reached a plea deal ultimately and was given probation.

He also had a number of fines from the NFL for late excessive hits on the field, also a fine for spitting on an opponent in a game. But by all accounts he was turning that reputation around with good behavior. Teammates and friends said the birth of his child had a lot to do with him calming down and becoming more mature.

One newspaper quoted his cousin, a football player for Florida State University, as saying that Sean Taylor was trying to shed some trouble-making friends he'd grown up with.

So Taylor's attorney said early this morning about Sean Taylor's death, it's a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and he had a huge life in front of him.

INSKEEP: Tom, thanks very much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Tom Goldman telling us the latest this morning on the death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor. He was shot yesterday at his home in Miami.

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