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Behind the scenes: Death of a hero

  • Story Highlights
  • The son of CNN anchor Rick Sanchez idolized NFL player Sean Taylor
  • Taylor's father says he never thought it would end this way for his son
  • Pedro Taylor says he's relying on faith, family to get him through ordeal
  • Tragedy highlights epidemic of violent death striking young black men in U.S.
  • Next Article in U.S. »
By Rick Sanchez
CNN
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Editor's note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the events. Here, Rick Sanchez returns to his hometown of Miami to cover the death of football star Sean Taylor.

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Pedro Taylor, Sean Taylor's father, says his son was becoming a family man before he was shot and killed.

MIAMI, Florida -- I'm in Miami to cover the death of my son's hero.

My son Ricky, who is 17, idolized Sean Taylor during his All-America days at the University of Miami, through his promising early years with the Washington Redskins, and right up until he died from a gunshot wound early Tuesday morning.

After the shooting, he told me Taylor was his "boy, my favorite, the best."

He also asked, like many people do when they lose someone important to them, why it happened. At this point, that's a question we can't answer.

At Sean Taylor's grandmother's house last night, about 40 people gathered outside, sitting quietly in folding chairs under the trees. It felt like an outdoor wake.

Inside, Sean's father, Pedro, was making funeral arrangements. Pedro is the police chief of Florida City, just south of Miami. Officers from his department were providing security, keeping onlookers a respectful distance away.

Pedro and some of the officers recognized me from the 15 years I spent anchoring the news in the Miami area. I asked Pedro if he might talk to me on camera for a special we're doing tonight on Sean's death and the epidemic of violent death striking young black men. Through bloodshot eyes, Pedro agreed. He looked a little rough, understandably, so I gave him my sport coat to wear before we rolled the cameras. Video Watch Pedro Taylor talk about his son and Rick Sanchez talk about a broader problem »

"Out in the Open"
CNN's Rick Sanchez looks at the rise in the violent deaths of young black men on a special edition of "Out in the Open."
Tonight, 8 ET.

Pedro Taylor, of course, never thought it would end this way for his son. He knew Sean had a gift for football at a young age, and he put him in prestigious Gulliver Prep. That paved the way to a scholarship to Miami, and a big contract as the top draft pick of the Washington Redskins.

He knows Sean had some problems with the law along the way, but he says that since the birth of his daughter 18 months ago, Sean had come to be a family man.

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As we ended the interview, Pedro Taylor told me that Sean knew that nothing is promised, and to cherish the time you have. He also said his faith and family would get him through this ordeal.

It's usually a time for celebration when I return to my hometown of Miami. Today, it's anything but, as we cover the death of a son, father and, to my son, a hero who died before his time. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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