Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley, 23, was found dead in his apartment on Monday, according to authorities. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said police officers were called to his home in Centennial by a female friend of McKinley’s who discovered the body after returning from an errand with his child. Robinson said he couldn’t provide any more details because of the ongoing investigation.
Nothing has been made official, but according to reports it appears to be a suicide, considering the gun shot wound that appeared to be self inflicted. At this time, authorities wouldn’t say if a suicide note has been found.
“Everyone with the Broncos is shocked and saddened by the loss of Kenny McKinley,” team owner Pat Bowlen said in a statement. “He was part of the Denver Broncos’ family and will be greatly missed by our organization. My most heartfelt condolences go out to Kenny’s family and friends.”
Kenny McKinley was a fifth round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, out of South Carolina, where he remains the all-time leading receiver with 207 catches for 2,781 yards, climbing into the SEC record books. He was placed on reserve prior to the start of the 2010 regular season with a knee injury, that has been an issue since 2009. He is the is the third Denver Broncos player to die a sudden death in the past four years.
The news of McKinley’s death spread quickly at the end of South Carolina’s practice Monday. Players who normally sprint off the field upbeat walked slowly with their heads down. “Kenny was certainly one of my all-time favorite players. It’s hard to figure out why it happened like this,” Spurrier said.
The Broncos beat Seattle 31-14 on Sunday, several Denver Broncos players were attending a fundraiser on Monday night, in honor of Darrent Williams, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2007, unaware of the latest tragedy that was about to unfold.
Denver Broncos running back Damien Nash collapsed and died after a charity basketball game in St. Louis, March 2007.
From the Denver Post Blog:
When I got back to the media room, I saw a tweet from a Bronco fan asking what was the latest news on McKinley. I quickly replied that he was on injured reserve and that I hadn’t seen him about Dove Valley in a while. I didn’t know that perhaps only an hour earlier, McKinley had committed suicide.
In the police report it was mentioned that Kenny McKinley had been depressed over his knee surgery, that he had one month ago.
“He had made statements while playing dominoes shortly after the surgery that he should just kill himself,” the officer reported. “No one believed he was serious.”
The report provided no explanation for the source of the investigator’s information.
We know found out, that it was actually two female friends who were taking care of his son, that discovered McKinley’s body Monday and called 911. McKinley’s body was covered with a pillow over his head and a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol on top of the pillow. They also noted a strong odor of freshly burned marijuana, according to the report. The officers said the NFL Network was on the television in the bedroom.
One of the female friends who took care of his son that day, was Brittany Boyd, who is the wife of former Broncos running back Cory Boyd, who was McKinley’s best friend and college teammate. She told the Press, that she didn’t know who told the investigators that McKinley had mentioned suicide – “That wasn’t from us,” she said – but added that she wouldn’t be surprised if nobody would have taken such a threat seriously.
“If it had been said to me, I probably would have been like, ‘Yeah, whatever, Kenny.’ It would have completely gone over my head,” she said. “That’s not the type of thing he would say and if he did say it, that’s not the type of thing that you would take seriously coming from him. “Because of his personality, because of who he is, nobody would have ever believed he would have done it.”
Boyd said she flew to Columbia on Tuesday to take Kenny McKinley’s son, Keon, 2, back to his mother, Shayla Lites. She said she had picked up McKinley and his son Keon at the Denver airport Sunday night and everything seemed normal.
“He was just excited about having his son here. He showed no signs of depression, no signs of awkwardness. He was 100 percent himself,” Boyd said. “He was 100 percent Kenny, laughing and joking, playing. And he was absolutely normal, he was fine.”
But she did mention that she could tell over the last month that McKinley was having a hard time with not being able to play football or be around his teammates every day. But it wasn’t like he was struggling to the point anyone feared he would harm himself. She said neither she nor her friend who was helping take care of the boy knew McKinley had a gun.
“We had no idea,” she said. “Nobody knew.”
The NFL Players Association has set up a trust fund to help provide the future education and health care expenses for Keon McKinley.
Contributions benefiting McKinley’s son can be sent to:
Kenny McKinley Trust Fund
c/o NFL Players Association
1133 20th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036