Posted Sept. 20, 2010 @ 9:04 p.m. ET
Updated Sept. 21, 2010 @ 10:20 a.m. ET
Broncos second-year WR Kenny McKinley was found dead in his apartment Monday in an apparent suicide.
Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said authorities were called to McKinley's apartment in Centennial, Colo., at 3:35 p.m. MDT and found his body in a bedroom. Detectives believe McKinley, 23, was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Robinson said.
Robinson said authorities were called by a female friend of McKinley's who discovered the body after returning from an errand with his child. The sheriff declined to say if authorities found a suicide note.
The Broncos will hold a news conference at noon MDT to address McKinley's death.
"Everyone with the Broncos is shocked and saddened by the loss of Kenny McKinley," Broncos president and CEO Pat Bowlen said in a statement posted on the team's Web site. "He was part of the Broncos family and will be greatly missed by our organization. My most heartfelt condolences go out to Kenny's family and friends."
McKinley, a fifth-round draft choice by Denver in 2009, played in eight games as a rookie. He returned seven kickoffs for a 22.6-yard average, the only rookie in the league that season to average at least 22 yards on kickoff returns. He also returned three punts for 32 yards.
He was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the 2010 season after suffering a knee injury.
"Kenny had a promising future on the football field, but more importantly, he was a great teammate whose smile and personality could light up the room," head coach Josh McDaniels said. "This is a tragic loss for our football team, and his family is in all of our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
McKinley played at South Carolina from 2005 through 2008, setting school records for receptions (207) and receiving yards (2,781).
"I saw him here — he came to the Georgia game," Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier said Monday upon learning of McKinley's death. "He seemed in good spirits. Great smile like he always had. I don't understand it if it happened the way they say. It's hard to comprehend. Kenny was certainly one of my favorite all-time players. He was a wonderful guy. It's hard to figure out why this happened. It's a sad day."
McKinley's death is the latest in a series for tragedies for the Broncos in recent years. CB Darrent Williams was murdered in a drive-by shooting on New Year's Day 2007, and three months later, backup RB Damien Nash collapsed and died after a charity basketball game in St. Louis.