Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said authorities were called to McKinley’s home in Centennial and found his body. Robinson said he couldn’t provide any more details because detectives were investigating and in the process of notifying relatives.
“Everyone with the Broncos is shocked and saddened by the loss of Kenny McKinley,” team owner Pat Bowlen said in a statement. “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.”
The Broncos said coach Josh McDaniels would meet with the media on Tuesday.
In a statement, McDaniels said: “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. 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 was a second-year pro who was on the team’s injured reserve list with a leg injury. He played in eight games as a rookie in 2009 with seven kick returns for 158 yards.
McKinley was a fifth-round draft choice out of South Carolina in 2009. He attended South Cobb High School in Austell, Ga.
McKinley remains South Carolina’s all-time leading receiver with 207 catches for 2,781 yards. He came back to the school earlier this month, watched the Gamecocks beat Georgia 17-6 and visited with his college coach, Steve Spurrier.
“Had a wonderful smile just like he always did,” Spurrier said.
The news of McKinley’s death spread quickly at the end of South Carolina’s practice Monday. Players who normally sprint off the field upbeat walked slowly with their heads down.
“Kenny was certainly one of my all-time favorite players. It’s hard to figure out why it happened like this,” Spurrier said.
Several Broncos players were attending a fundraiser Monday night in honor of Darrent Williams, their teammate who was killed in a drive-by shooting on Jan. 1, 2007.
Three months later, Broncos backup running back Damien Nash collapsed and died after a charity basketball game in St. Louis in March 2007.
“Although the death of McKinley appears to be the result of a self inflicted gunshot, the investigation into this matter, conducted by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office, is on-going, ” Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson told Fox 31 of Denver.