Former Chiefs defensive tackle Saousoalii “Junior” Siavii has died after he was found unresponsive Thursday afternoon in a Leavenworth prison as he awaited trial on federal criminal charges related to drug trafficking and illegal firearm possession.
Siavii, 43, was found unresponsive at the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth around 2:35 p.m, Anna Armijo, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, said in a statement. He was treated by prison staff and taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Few details were immediately disclosed about the circumstances surrounding his death. Armijo said no staff or other inmates were injured and “at no time was the public in danger.”
On Dec. 17, Siavii was moved to the medium-security prison in Leavenworth, which has recently been the site of many prisoner transfers following the end of a federal contract with a nearby private facility run by CoreCivic. Siavii has been held under federal detention orders since 2019.
Siavii was arrested in August 2019 on suspicion of illegal firearms possession during a struggle with police officers in Independence. A criminal indictment later named Siavii as being part of a methamphetamine drug trafficking conspiracy in the Western District of Missouri. He was charged alongside eight other co-defendants.
The Chiefs drafted Siavii with the 36th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, and before he put on the uniform, he labeled himself unblockable in the run game.
It didn’t pan out that way. He managed only 15 tackles and one sack in two seasons before knee injuries interrupted his NFL career. After three seasons out of the league, he returned to one-year stops in Dallas and Seattle.
Siavii was born in American Samoa, where he attended high school before moving to the United States and playing junior college football. He eventually landed at Oregon, where his size (6-foot-5, 320 pounds) popped on film and caught the attention of Chiefs scouts.
The Star’s Cortlynn Stark contributed to this report.