As the dark side of Steve McNair's private life plays out in public after his controversial death, his cousin Tom J. Jones hopes the world will not forget the football legend's legacy, and all the good work he has done for hurricane victims, his friends, and family.
"It was like being pierced right through your core," said Jones about finding out for the first time of McNair's death.
62 year-old Jones rushed home to call McNair's family in Mississippi.
"His wife is hurting," said Jones. "His mother is hurting... Let them know that we all are hurting."
The last time Jones remembers seeing the football legend was at a family reunion back in 1996.
According to Jones, he and McNair are fourth and fifth generation descendants of a white slave owner by the name of Wesley Gray, who allegedly fathered four sons with several black mistresses.
He says as soon as McNair made money playing football, he bought 600 acres of the Gray family plantation in Mississippi, and gave generously to his family.
"He did what any son would do to make life comfortable for them when he became a superstar for the Houston Oilers and then the Tennessee Titans."
Police say McNair was found Saturday fatally shot twice in the head and twice in the chest in a Nashville condo he rented. They say a gun was found under the body of his alleged 20 year-old mistress, who suffered one gunshot wound.
While police try to determine if this was a murder-suicide, Jones says he hopes the controversy surrounding his cousin's death will not overshadow the great accomplishments he achieved.
"I thought he was a tremendous human being and a tremendous athlete."
Jones says McNair leaves behind five sons, four with his widow Michelle, and another teenage son from a previous relationship.
Jones also says he plans to attend McNair's funeral this Saturday at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
Exclusive Interview w/ Cousin of Slain NFL Star
McNairs Cousin Dont Want Controversies to Overshadow His Legacy
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.