Miami O.J. Simpson showed up.
Jesse Jackson, too.
And NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
And the Washington Redskins.
And the Miami Hurricanes.
And thousands of others.
Sean Taylor was such a big football star that his funeral service Monday had to be held in a college basketball arena. But in the end, all of his famous friends and all of the celebrity worship couldn't change one simple and sad fact: Another young black man had lost his life for no good reason.
It doesn't just happen in Miami, it happens in Micanopy. It doesn't just happen in Detroit, it happens in Des Moines. It happens everywhere from South Florida to North Dakota, from Peoria to Pahokee, from Oshkosh to Orlando.
The statistics are staggering: African Americans make up 12 percent of America's population but represent 50 percent of the murder victims in this country. In America, a black man is six times more likely to be murdered than a white man.
Because of these statistics, we become numb - and numbskulls. We start drawing conclusions, making assumptions.
"Let us never forget that Sean Taylor died making the right decision," Pastor David Peay reminded everyone during his eulogy Monday.
It seems after the rush to judgment concerning Taylor's life - and death - we somehow forgot that he was the victim, not the perpetrator, of yet another senseless act of violence. We forgot to point out that he likely died just as any of us would have - trying to protect his girlfriend and young daughter from a bunch of gun-wielding thugs who were trying rob his home.
Why is it then that it felt like Taylor was being blamed for his own death in the hours and days after he was shot during the break-in of his home in Miami? It's as if almost any young black man from Miami who went to the "U" must have been doing something to get himself shot. Granted, Taylor had had a couple of brushes with the law in his past.
In the new Internet-driven Pardon the Interruption media world, where opinions must be formed or forced immediately, Taylor was packaged as the young black gangsta with a taste for trouble. Just as the Duke lacrosse team was packaged as the rich white kids with a sense of entitlement.
It's no wonder that the eulogizers who lashed out at the media Monday received two separate standing ovations from the crowd.
"I hope the media has received a small lesson in grace and humility," railed family friend Otis Wallace. "For those who recklessly reported that Sean Taylor's death was caused by the way he lived, all I have to say is, 'You should be ashamed of yourselves.'"
What a strange, sad, surreal scene watching Jesse Jackson preaching about senseless violence and murder - and O.J. sitting up front and listening intently.
But when the music had stopped and the tears had dried, this wasn't about the Reverend or the Juice or any of the other celebrities and dignitaries who showed up Monday. It was about little girl in a red dress with a big bow in the back.
At the end of the eulogy, Jackie Taylor, 11â2, toddled up to the front of the arena and began smelling the flowers that surrounded her daddy's closed casket.
In the end, all of the famous people and all of the celebrity worship couldn't change this one simple and sad fact:
Another child will grow up without a father.