In remembrance of Sean Taylor, on the 12th anniversary of his death

Shalise Manza Young
·Yahoo Sports Columnist
Sean Taylor died on Nov. 27, 2007. He was just 24 years old. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Sean Taylor died on Nov. 27, 2007. He was just 24 years old. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

It is November 27, which means it’s been another year since Washington safety and nascent star Sean Taylor was killed in his own home, protecting his family. This year marks 12 years since Taylor was shot by intruders in the early-morning hours of Nov. 26, 2007; he died the next day.

He was just 24.

The fifth pick in the 2005 draft, Taylor was named a Pro Bowler in 2006, and posthumously in 2007, though he’d played just nine games that season.

In the ‘06 Pro Bowl, he drilled Buffalo Bills punter Brian Moorman, his physical play on full display — even though the annual exhibition is not a place for hard hits.

As Yahoo Sports’ senior NFL writer Terez Paylor wrote last year in remembrance of Taylor’s death, he was a “football unicorn,” beloved in his native Miami and in the greater Washington area.

“Of all the young players now, especially the safeties, the guys who were in college around the time he passed and were coming into the league in high school at that time, that generation of player wanted to be like him,” Louis Riddick told Paylor.

Riddick, a former NFL safety who was part of Washington’s pro personnel department when Taylor was drafted, is now an ESPN analyst. “These guys knew who Sean was. He was that guy that everybody tried to pattern their games after.”

Current players of a certain age — Washington’s Landon Collins, Chicago’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Rams’ John Johnson III — have cited Taylor as an inspiration and someone whose play they tried to emulate.

But Taylor was so much more than hard hits. He’d started to mature as a man before his death.

“He’d changed his life around, gone from being the hothead, stubborn, ornery youngster who had a kid, was slowing down, wanted his legacy to be one of the all-time greats,” Riddick said. “The lightbulb had come on, and everybody loved that kind of story, just from afar. But if you knew him … you felt like he was your brother, your son. He was like, the ultimate redemption story. And you didn’t want anything from him; you just wanted him to complete the cycle and be one of the best of all time.

“And when that [death] happened, not only was it heartbreaking, but it was infuriating. I know people have never let it go, and they never will. I know I never will.”

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