Neighbors in Florida: 'No One Would Have Expected Trouble'

By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

PALMETTO BAY, Fla., Nov. 26 -- Sean Taylor may be a brash, young NFL star, but neither the house in which he lives nor what his neighbors say they've seen of the 24-year-old befits his reputation.

In a Miami suburb where lavish orange-painted Mediterranean-style mansions on the bay are a nouveau riche hallmark, Taylor's home is a relatively modest 1970s ranch on a busy street.

And while he may be known as one of the fiercest hitters in the NFL, neighbors describe the Washington Redskins safety as a quiet, polite young man whom they have sometimes seen walking in the neighborhood with his fiancee and their 18-month-old daughter, Jackie.

"He was nothing but a gentleman with us," said one woman, a retiree who, like others interviewed, declined to give a name. "He would sometimes talk over the fence with us, and it was always, 'Yes, ma'am, no ma'am, yes sir.' "

The news that he had been shot at his home early Monday morning came as a shock to many here in the quiet, affluent neighborhood.

But as police investigators ran yellow crime-scene tape around the front of his home and television crews set up across the street, the scene also recalled for many who have followed his career the enigma Taylor has presented.

While friends and teammates have described Taylor as a good-natured, family-oriented man who contributed to local charities, trouble has often followed him as well. And shortly before 1:45 Monday morning, when his fiancee called to say he'd been shot, it followed him to this peaceful suburb miles from Miami's glitziest locales.

"No one would have expected trouble over there," said another of his neighbors. "When he was in town, we'd see him and his wife -- or whoever she was -- walking with the baby. He was just nice, friendly."

The son of the police chief in nearby Florida City, Fla., Taylor grew up in the area and starred for a local prep school and then the University of Miami.

He was the fifth pick in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft.

Taylor bought the house in June 2005, paying $900,000 for a home the assessor says has a market value of $729,000.

Less than a year before, Taylor purchased a house in Ashburn, near the Redskins' training facility, for $529,000, according to property records. But Taylor has continued to live primarily in suburban Miami, near family -- he is the second of four children -- and lifelong friends.

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