Let me start off by saying that anytime a 24-year old dies unexpectedly, it's a sad story. Former Miami Hurricane and Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor is no different.
For those of you who don't know, Taylor was shot in his home Monday morning by what was originally thought to be a would-be robber. Although the bullet hit Taylor in the leg, it ruptured a major artery and he died lying in a hospital bed Tuesday morning.
Like I said, his death alone makes for a sad story. What makes it downright depressing is that the events leading up to his death aren't nearly as cut and dry as original reports made them out to be.
Monday was apparently the second time over the past few weeks in which someone had broken into Taylor's home. Nothing was stolen either time and the only notable item that had been displaced was large knife that was laid on his bed after the first break-in.
Let's recap: two break-ins, nothing stolen, knife left on the bed the first time and a shot to the leg the second. No offense Miami-Dade Police, but scrap you burglary theory. This reeks of intentional and well-calculated malice. But something did go wrong. You don't shoot a man in the leg at close range if you're trying to kill him. In that sense, the shooter is in for more than he bargained for. Then again, so are we.
The layers of this story are stacked a mile high and more will continue to be pulled back as this investigation moves forward. But for now, we have a pretty informed opinion as to the "what" in all of this. What I and everyone else wants to know is the "why."
Taylor was a man with whose morals were often questioned early in his career after he left Miami with a rap sheet longer than the concession lines at the stadiums in which he played. That's not to say that people are incapable of change. Familial obligations often spur that in young people and Taylor was no exception. He had a daughter. He was engaged to the mother of his child. New York Giants tight end and former Miami Hurricane Jeremy Shockey said he said that change in Taylor. Another former college teammate of Taylor's, Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis said "ever since he had a child, it was like a new Sean." By all accounts from Taylor's former college and professional teammates, he was a man who was well on his way to turning his life around. He had managed to maintain his edge on the field while smoothing out the troubled wrinkles of his life off of it. However, the point has astutely been made that just because you try and leave parts of your own life behind, doesn't mean that others are readily willing to let you do so.
Like I said, nothing about this is right. Some might say even the timing of this post isn't right. Then again, when would it be? Let's face it, there is, nor will there ever be, an ideal time for this. Simply put, We can't canonize any and all people who have their lives taken from them. Is it a shame that events surrounding Taylor's death seem as obscured and shady as the those of the trouble past he sought to leave behind? Of course it is. Did anyone see this coming? Maybe, though the vast majority did not. But would you honestly be surprised if this does in fact prove to be more than a random act of violence or a robbery gone array? Would it be so shocking to discover that the people responsible for this have some kind of a connection to Taylor's muddied past?
Like I said, anytime a 24-year old dies unexpectedly, it's a sad story. But keep the facts in mind. Keep Taylor's past in mind. Don't rush in to grieve for a man because he was a 24-year-old public figure. Grieve for him because of what that man did in his 24 years of life. And honestly, at this points, I think very few of us know for a fact that Taylor was a man worth grieving for.