NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - This July 4 marks the ninth year since former Titans Quarterback Steve McNair was found dead.
McNair left a lasting mark on Nashville and those who knew him, including one of his best friends, Robert 'Big Daddy' Gaddy.
Gaddy found the Pro-Bowl Quarterback dead in a downtown Nashville condo back in 2009.
McNair is still larger than life, a banner of him hangs outside Nissan Stadium.
"Anytime I see my friend getting immortalized in any shape, form or fashion it does me great," Gaddy said. "I know it does family and warms all of our hearts to see him up there."
A Nashville legend.
"Steve meant a lot to me as well as he did a lot of people in this city," Gaddy said.
One of the Tennessee Titans greats.
"You can never forget an individual like Steve," Gaddy said.
Gaddy, a former Kansas City Chiefs and Nashville Kats Arena Football League player knew Steve Air II McNair well.
What many people don't know is, McNair and Gaddy played college football together at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi.
"I was his offensive lineman for three plus years, right tackle, and that's where I started to protect him," he said.
Their paths crossed again here in Nashville, where he still had McNair's back.
"It was an amazing thing that how it all worked out that we ended up crossing paths again here in Nashville and continuing our friendship from there," said Gaddy.
On this, the 9th anniversary of McNair's death, Gaddy is remembering his friend.
"Over time things have gotten a little bit easier to deal with," he said. "The first five years it was very, very hard to even thing about the 4th."
Gaddy was the one who found McNair dead in a downtown condo.
"The last couple of years I mean I've blocked it out a whole lot," Gaddy said. "The first couple of years I lost a lot of sleep to walk into a room and see what you would consider your best friend sleep, and in an eternal sleep. It was a picture that was hard to get out of my mind and to this day, when I think about it, it still sends chills down my spine."
Gaddy said he's chosen not to talk publicly about what happened to McNair out of respect for his widow and children.
"I know the kids got to get on with their lives, Mechelle got to get on with her life, but at the same time I know they are missing him just like me and every other individual he touched while he was here on this planet," Gaddy said.
Gaddy and his wife owns Donk's Sports Bar in Antioch.
"It's a sports bar, kind of on the theme of Hooter's," Gaddy describes.
Each year they pay tribute to Steve McNair, keeping his memory alive.
"I want to personally say Steve was one of the greatest human beings I had the fortunate to be around in my entire life," Gaddy said.
Gaddy said he's been around a lot of NFL players who wouldn't give you the time the day, let along sign autographs, but he said McNair would jeopardize being late for an appointment making sure he signed each and every autograph, especially for kids.
The Tennessee Titans are also remembering McNair. Click here to read their Top Five McNair moments.
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