Former defensive tackle Shawn Lee, half of the Chargers' "Two Tons of Fun" from their 1994 AFC championship team, passed away Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., from cardiac arrest brought on by double pneumonia, *The San Diego Union-Tribune* reported Tuesday. He was 44.
Yolanda Chappell of Chappell's Funeral Home in Garner, N.C., confirmed Lee's death, but wouldn't disclose how he died.
Lee teamed with fellow 300-plus pounder Reuben Davis to anchor the Chargers' defensive line during their run to the Super Bowl that season. Lee had 39 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 1994.
Lee played collegiately at North Alabama and was a sixth-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1988. He played two seasons for the Bucs, two more for the Miami Dolphins, then landed with the Chargers in 1992. His six seasons in San Diego were his most productive as a professional.
The first to die was linebacker David Griggs, 28, killed in a car crash in June 1995. Running back Rodney Culver was 26 when he perished in a 1996 plane crash. Two bolts of lightning struck linebacker Doug Miller, 28, during his 1998 death. Curtis Whitley, who'd been released by the Chargers in '94, died of a drug overdose in 2008 at 39. And fellow defensive lineman Chris Mims was 38 when he died due to heart failure in 2008.
"Not again," former Chargers running back Natrone Means said, referring to the news of Lee's death. "It's crazy, just crazy, that we've had so many guys who have fallen. I can't make any sense of it. I've given up trying. You just hope you quit getting these random messages out of nowhere that another teammate has passed away.
"Look at Shawn. He was a big man, a man's man, no doubt about it. I can't believe he's gone, too."
Means and Davis both remained friends with Lee after their playing days and recalled a gentle giant.
"The average fan would take a look at him and be scared to go up and talk to him, but he was great to people," said Means. "He'd do anything in the world for you."
Davis, who lived an hour away from Lee, added: "Heart of gold. The man never had an enemy, and that's hard to say about a lot of people. He just had such a different sort of wisdom about him."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.