Tiaina Seau Sr.

Junior Seau's father makes an emotional appearance outside the NFL great's Oceanside home. (May 3, 2012)

OCEANSIDE, Calif. --  Junior Seau's father made an emotional visit to the memorial in front of the NFL legend's beachfront home Thursday.

Tiana Seau Sr. was too overcome by emotion to speak at length with reporters, but he said that his own home was full of family members all morning the loss of the former Charger linebacker.

San Diegans of all stripes were struggling Thursday with the loss of one of the region's most famous sons. For many, the 43-year-old former San Diego Chargers linebacker was larger than life. To learn that he may have taken his own life in his beachfront Oceanside home came as shock.

Community response was swift, with makeshift memorials popping up in front of Seau's home, his restaurant in Mission Valley and Chargers' offices in Murphy Canyon.

Thursday morning, a constant stream of people came by Seau's beachfront home in the 600 block of the Strand to place flowers, balloons and candles in front of the residence. The county's morning newspapers devoted their front pages to banner coverage of Seau's passing, and many local television stations dedicated entire newscasts to Seau's death.

Seau's family released the following statement in response to the public outpouring:

"On behalf of our parents and siblings, we thank you for the outpouring of love from each and every one, near and far. We ask that you continue to pray for our family during this time, as we will continue to pray for those Junior has touched. God bless you. The Seau Family"

Many of those who knew him well said they never would have expected Seau to kill himself.

"I'm shocked like everybody else. My friends and I walk by here several days a week anyway, but I was one of Junior's junior high school P.E. teachers and have a long history as a Charger's fan as well … so I watched his whole career," said a man who came to Seau's house Thursday to pay his respects. "It's just shocking. I don't know what else you can say."

Chargers President Dean Spanos described himself as "shocked and devastated'' and called the loss of Seau "one of the worst things I could ever imagine.''

"Junior was my friend,'' Spanos said. "We all lost a friend today. Junior was an icon in our community. He transcended the game. He wasn't just a football player; he was so much more. He was loved by everyone in our family, our organization and throughout the NFL. ... It's heartbreaking.''

Head coach Norv Turner said he had "no words to describe the passing of Junior Seau.''

"It is a sad, sad day for not only me, but for the whole sports community,'' Turner said. "I worked with Junior here and later in Miami. I can tell you no one had more character and true leadership ability than Junior. He brought passion to the game of football that was unmatched. His commitment to charitable causes in the community was inspiring. It was an honor to know him.''

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders hailed Seau as "one of the most electrifying athletes in San Diego sports history.''

"He was a passionate figure who gave the game of football -- and Chargers fans everywhere -- everything he had,'' Sanders said. "His passion for the San Diego region was also felt through his charitable work, which did so much good in so many ways.''

In 1992, Seau created the Junior Seau Foundation, an organization formed to raise money and other resources for programs that "educate and empower young people through the support of child-abuse prevention, drug and alcohol awareness, recreational opportunities, anti-juvenile-delinquency efforts and complimentary educational programs.''

The 20th-anniversary Junior Seau Celebrity Golf Classic fundraiser was held in March at La Costa Resort and Spa.

Seau is survived by a daughter and two sons.

There was no immediate announcement regarding funeral plans.