T.J. Cunningham, a University of Colorado football star who played briefly for the Seattle Seahawks, was fatally shot in an argument over a parking space. As the sports worlds mourn, get the details about T.J.
A reported argument over a parking spot turned deadly, as Anthony “T.J.” Cunningham, a 46-year-old former NFL star, was shot in Aurora, Colorado during the morning hours of Feb. 17, according to the Denver Post. Police responded to reports of a shooting near Eaglecrest High School and Thunder Ridge Middle School when they found T.J. The authorities transported him to Parker Adventist Hospital but died on Monday (Feb. 18) afternoon. The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office arrested Marcus Johnson, 31, on suspicion of first-degree attempted murder. As the authorities piece together what went down, here’s what you need to know about T.J. and this tragic incident.
1. The shooting was reportedly over a parking space. Marcus allegedly shot T.J. in a dispute over a parking spot in front of their neighboring homes. The suspect, according to the sheriff’s office, told investigators that his neighbor “attacked him earlier in the day.” Authorities said the two had an argument sometime on S. Rome Street in Aurora when they agreed to meet in the parking lot between the two schools to settle the dispute. Only Marcus, according to the sheriff, brought a gun to the meeting and it was recovered followed the shooting.
2. T.J. Cunningham was a college football star… Anthony, born and raised in Aurora, was a hometown hero. After graduating from Aurora’s Overland High School, he joined the University of Colorado Boulder’s football team as a wide receiver/defensive back. He recorded 239 yards on 21 receptions. He was part of four bowl teams, and his work drew the attention of the NFL.
3. …who briefly played with the Seattle Seahawks. T.J.’s all-too-short NFL career started in 1996. The Seattle Seahawks picked him in the 6th round of the 1996 draft (209th overall.) He wouldn’t last a full season, sadly. After playing just nine games with Seattle, T.J. injured his knee while playing against the Oakland Raiders. The Seahawks would release him in Aug. 1997 after he was “physically unable to perform.”
“He was always a great person, a smart person. He got along with everyone. He was never a troublemaker,” Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, a college teammate of T.J.’s, told Denver7. “I am shocked that this came to his doorstep. He was a great person with a big heart. Anyone who needed help in life, he was always there for them.”
4. After the NFL, he worked as a high school assistant principal. Following his NFL career, T.J. found a new mission in life. At the time of his shooting, he was the assistant principal at Hinkley High School. He had also remained involved with the University of Colorado Boulder through the organization “Buff4Life.”
University of Colorado Athletic Director Rick George said in a statement that T.J. was a “good family man” who “had a strong passion for working with young people as evidenced by serving as an assistant high school principal He was also a good alum, an active alum and took great pride in being a Colorado Buffalo,” he said in the statement. “Our hearts go out to TJ’s family on their tragic loss. We will miss him.”
5. He leaves behind a wife and five children. “TJ always stood up for what was right and looked out for people who could not speak up for themselves,” reads the GoFundMe page set up to assist T.J.’s family during this time of loss. “TJ’s legacy is beyond words and he has left behind a wife and five beautiful children who depended on him as a husband, father and primary provider.”
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