Bidding Farewell to One's Livelihood

By Mike Wise
Sunday, September 7, 2008

Autumn Rose Brooks was propped up next to a collapsible table, the one with items on it marked, "Lot 21." She continued siphoning formula from her bottle, failing to spill on her Redskinette cheerleader outfit in the auction house her grandmother owns.

At 7 months old, someone noted, Autumn was born after Sean Taylor died.

"It'd be nice for her to have something that his daughter had," said Autumn's mother, Kathryn Drake. "I'm going to maybe try and see if I can't get that car seat."

Hard by Marsh Road along Route 17, 90 minutes by car from the District in the Virginia town of Bealeton, they came to bid on Taylor's belongings from his Ashburn estate. Nine months after the all-pro safety was slain in his Miami home, the last physical vestiges of his Washington life went to the highest bidders, who pulled into a gravel parking lot here Friday night at the Brooks auction house.

"It's a little weird -- this wasn't his memorabilia; this was his personal stuff," said Jim Cook, the owner of Cook's Tank Cleaning, who came to bid on a Rigid Shop-Vac that Taylor owned.

From the dark-stained, mahogany bedroom suite in immaculate condition to Taylor's Husky wrench-and-socket kit, it all went. His eight fishing poles, four Christmas mugs, two bars of unopened Irish Spring soap, the red Toro lawnmower, even his Old Spice cologne.

Conversation pieces, too, like the glass-top table -- held up by tree roots concealing a crouching black panther -- and a German-made 9mm Sig Sauer handgun.

"Check out the laser scope on it," said Tom Brooks, handing over the firearm and demonstrating how the brilliant red dot could pinpoint someone clear across the auction room.

Two weeks ago a jammed-full, 38-foot trailer pulled up at Brooks auction house. The remaining belongings from Taylor's three-bedroom Ashburn townhouse were unpacked, one by one, and either stamped with little red grocery stickers that read "21" or had large "Lot 21" placards taped to them. The estate trustee had only one condition before the auction began: All proceeds, after commissions, would go to a fund for Taylor's infant daughter Jackie, whom Tom and Joyce Brooks were told was not named in his will.

What a lingering tragedy. Some of little Jackie's own belongings were essentially auctioned off to help ensure the child's financial security.

"Sad to see the baby cups sold," Kristi King said after the set went along with some kitchen items. She sat beside sons Kyle, 13, and Mason, 9, in the front row. "Those are things you want to keep."

The usual array of bargain-hunters greatly outnumbered curiosity-seekers and fans. In fact, about a third of the people in burgundy and gold T-shirts, jerseys and hats worked at the auction house, where they were instructed to wear the team's colors.

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