Married former NFL quarterback Steve McNair wooed a teenage waitress with exotic vacations, lavish gifts and even promised he would divorce his wife so the two could be together -- but no split was in the works.
Sahel Kazemi, 20, was wrapped up in her boyfriend's lifestyle and became so infatuated with the pro athlete who was 16 years her senior that she began selling her belongings on Craigslist so the pair could move in together, her family told The Tennessean newspaper.
"She just had it made, you know -- this guy taking care of everything," her nephew Farzin Abdi told the paper. "They were together all the time, unless he was taking his kids on vacation."
Despite McNair's promises of a life together, there is no evidence that he ever intended to divorce his wife, Mechelle.
Friends and family said they had never even heard of Kazemi.
McNair began dating the then-19-year-old Dave & Buster's waitress and whisked her off to Las Vegas, Hawaii, Key West and California, lavishing gifts on her and giving her an Escalade for her birthday in May.
Kazemi appeared confident the pair would last and introduced her family to the athlete, telling them he had filed for divorce and it would be finalized soon, according to the paper.
The pair were found dead Saturday in a condo rented by McNair and a pal. The ex-Tennessee Titan was shot three times, twice in the chest and once in the head. Kazemi died from a single shot to the head. The Tennesseean reported that autopsy results showed McNair was shot twice from a distance of three feet or more and once from close range. Kazemi's wound was a "contact shot," meaning the gun was touching her head when it was fired.
"All the autopsy tells us is that her wound is potentially self-inflicted," the medical examiner said.
The semi-automatic pistol found under Kazemi's body had been purchased by the 20-year old less than two days before the shooting and mounting evidence pointed to a murder-suicide with Kazemi as a shooter, cops said.
Police said Kazemi probably bought the gun from a private dealer. Federal laws would have prohibited her from purchasing it from a registered dealer because she was under the legal age of 21, according to The New York Times. McNair was not with Kazemi when she bought the gun, cops said.
The first sign of trouble between McNair and his girlfriend came early Thursday morning. Police stopped Kazemi on Broadway, not far from the honky-tonks where throaty country singers belt out tales of unfaithful spouses. She was driving the Escalade SUV that McNair gave her for her birthday in May.
According to an arrest affidavit, Kazemi had bloodshot eyes and alcohol on her breath. She refused a breath test and told an officer "she was not drunk, she was high." She was charged with DUI. McNair was with her but not charged. He later made her bail.
McNair and his wife were in the process of selling their $2.9 million, 14,000-square-foot home in Nashville, but their realtor claims they weren't selling because of an impending split. He said they were looking to purchase another home "near a lake," according to the gossip website TMZ.
Mechelle, his wife of 12 years and mother of two of his four sons born between 1991 and 2004, has been described by police as very distraught about his death and has not commented on it. She reportedly told her realtor to go ahead with the sale of their Nashville home.
McNair retired from the NFL last year. He had earned the respect of fellow players for shaking off defenders and injuries. Fans marveled at how the quarterback kept showing up for work — and winning.
He was known as Air McNair because of his passing prowess and was named to four Pro Bowls in 13 NFL seasons. He shared the NFL's MVP award with Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts in 2003. In 2000, he led the Titans to the Super Bowl, where they fell one yard short of a last-second touchdown to tie the game.
Kazemi was born in Iran but left in 2000, fleeing religious persecution for their Baha'i faith, Abdi said. They spent 2 1/2 years in Turkey before moving to Florida. Later Kazemi dropped out of high school and, at age 17, moved with a boyfriend to Nashville, where she sometimes worked two or three jobs to support herself.