Andy Garcia is paying tribute to slain NFL star Sean Taylor, who died this week after being shot inside his Florida home during an apparent break-in.
The actor's niece, Jackie Garcia, was the girlfriend of the Redskins safety and was
there Monday night when they heard loud noises inside Taylor's home.
Jackie Garcia hid in the couple's bedroom with their 18-month-old daughter, also named Jackie, while Sean Taylor, 24, went to investigate the break-in.
The intruder fired at least two shots, one of which struck Sean Taylor in the groin. The assailant then fled as Taylor stumbled back to the bedroom and Jackie Garcia called 911 on her cellphone. The phone lines to Taylor's home had been cut.
Andy Garcia's niece was with Sean Taylor on the fateful night.
"His heroic action on that tragic night saved both of their lives and is a testament to his humanity and courage," Andy Garcia, the star of Ocean's Thirteen, said in a statement to the Miami Herald. "His spirit will live forever, in our hearts and through the legacy of his achievements and the family he leaves behind."
Jackie Garcia and Sean Taylor were high school sweethearts at South Florida's Gulliver Preparatory School and attended the University of Miami together.
"Sean Taylor as known to many as an extraordinary athlete and unquestionable teammate," Andy Garcia, 51, added. "To those of us who had the good fortune to count him as a member of our extended family, we will always remember him as a caring and loving individual."
The Miami-Dade police director said Wednesday that authorities have "no reason to think this was anything other than a burglary or a robbery."
There are no suspects in the murder of Sean Taylor, who died at the hospital after suffering major blood loss and brain damage as a result of the shooting.