Junior Seau smiles during his induction into the Chargers Hall of Fame during a halftime ceremony of an NFL football game in San Diego, California on November 27th 2011

Following an autopsy performed Thursday on NFL legend Junior Seau, the San Diego County medical examiner confirmed that the 43-year-old’s tragic death Wednesday morning was a suicide; the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound the chest.

Junior Seau was found by his girlfriend the morning of Wednesday, May 2nd after he had apparently shot himself in the chest. She immediately called 911, but attempts by emergency medical responders to revive him were unsuccessful.

Those close to the former football star say they didn’t see this coming.

“This is not anything I thought he would ever do,” former San Diego Chargers safety Miles McPherson said.

Last month, Seau attended Southern Cal’s spring football game in Los Angeles, and his friends say he was in great spirits.

“I didn’t see anything that seemed to be troubling him. He was relaxed and playing his ukulele and just enjoying being around the guys,” said former Southern Cal player Sam Cunningham. “We all had a great time with each other. He seemed to be in good spirits. The news was definitely strange, because he was in such good spirits when I saw him.”

Pro Football Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, also from Southern Cal, echoed Cunningham, “I really saw nothing unusual. … There was just no indication. It was the same old Junior I’ve known all these years.”

If something was troubling Seau, he didn’t let anyone know. Police said the former pro footballer left no suicide note.

Seau’s case is similar to that of former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who shot himself in the chest, like Seau, last month at age 62.

But before his death, Easterling — who is said to have suffered from depression and dementia after years and years of taking hits on the football field — had joined in a concussion-related lawsuit against the NFL, one of dozens filed over the past year or so.

His wife of 36 years Mary Ann Easterling has said that despite her hsuband’s death, she will fight to continue the lawsuit, and will urge the league to establish a fund for former NFL players like her husband who suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of their time playing professional football.

Junior Seau’s family will make the decision of whether or not they will allow further study of his brain to see if there was any damage to it as a result of his 20-year football career. It’s not known as to whether or not Seau was a plaintiff in the concussion litigation.

[Sources: CNN, USA Today]