Mario Danelo
Danelo's USC team photo.
BornJuly 3, 1985
San Pedro, California
DiedJanuary 6, 2007(2007-01-06) (aged 21)
San Pedro, California
Cause of deathFall
MonumentsSan Pedro High School mural
Alma materSan Pedro High School
Known forAmerican football placekicker

Mario Danelo (July 3, 1985 – January 6, 2007) was an American college football placekicker.

High school careerEdit

Danelo was an all–Los Angeles linebacker at San Pedro High School in San Pedro, California. Danelo was also a fullback and kicker at his high school. Because, at 5'10" and 200 lbs, he was undersized to be a major college linebacker, his father, former 9-year National Football League kicker Joe Danelo, taught him the position.[1] Danelo became the first San Pedro High Pirate to play football at the University of Southern California in 30 years.[1][2]

College careerEdit

Danelo was a walk-on college football player at USC in 2003. He redshirted his first year and did not have any kick attempts in the 2004 season. He earned an athletic scholarship starting in 2005. During the 2005 season, he set the NCAA, Pac-10 and USC Trojans season record for hitting 83 out of 86 PATs. In 2006, Danelo led USC in scoring with 89 points.[3] During the 2006 season, Danelo made 15 of 16 field-goal attempts and 44 of 48 PATs.[2] In his final game, the 21-year-old kicked two field goals in helping USC achieve victory in the 2007 Rose Bowl.[1]

Death and memorialEdit

In the early morning hours of January 6, 2007, after partying with friends, Mario left his family's San Pedro home, telling his father he was going for a walk.[4] He was found dead later that day by a passer-by at the bottom of the 120 feet (37 m)* White Point Cliff near Point Fermin Lighthouse, several blocks from his house. No signs of scuba gear, surfing equipment, or swimsuits were found, and his car was not in the vicinity. The police ruled out foul play as the cause of death. In front of the cliff, which he is suspected to have accidentally fallen off or jumped, there are signs forbidding entrance.[5][6] Danelo's autopsy toxicological report found he had a 0.23 blood-alcohol level at the time of his death, almost three times the California legal limit to operate a vehicle on public roadways. The coroner's report listed the cause of death as the result of "multiple traumatic injuries;" however the coroner could not determine how those injuries had occurred.[4][7] Danelo's blood tested free from drugs. As of March 2007, the manner of death was undetermined.[8]

Two thousand people attended Danelo's funeral at Mary Star of the Sea Catholic church as city streets in San Pedro were closed to handle traffic and four thousand mourners spilled outside of the filled church.[2] The speakers included his older brother Joey Danelo, USC head coach Pete Carroll, and his San Pedro High coach Mike Walsh.[1] Among the mourners were approximately 100 of his former USC teammates and coaches, including Shaun Cody, Matt Grootegoed, Fred Matua, Tom Malone, and Scott Ware.[2]

For the 2007 season, USC players wore a #19 sticker on their helmets in honor of Danelo.[8] In addition, the Kennedy-Jones practice field had the number "19" sprayed onto its end zones. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has also put a banner above the tunnel with Danelo's name and the goal-post pads will pay tribute to him.[9]

Before the beginning of the 2007 opener, USC held a special ceremony with a video tribute, a moment of silence before the game, and coach Pete Carroll and Athletic Director Mike Garrett presented a jersey to Danelo's parents. On September 1, 2007, in USC's first game of the season against the Idaho Vandals, USC intentionally lined up for the PAT without a kicker following their first touchdown of the game, taking a 5-yard delay of game in tribute to their late teammate.[10] The moment was chosen by ESPN as one of the Pac-10's Top 10 Moments Of BCS Era.[11]

On December 17, 2007, San Pedro High School dedicated a large mural on campus to Danelo.[12] The mural was planned and donated by a USC group and was entitled "Livin' the Dream" by sports muralist Mike Sullivan.[13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Former USC kicker Danelo remembered for love of life, Associated Press, January 12, 2007
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Gary Klein, A university, and a city, mourn Danelo, Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2007.
  3. USC kicker Danelo found dead at bottom of cliff. Associated Press. January 7, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bill Plaschke, An extraordinary extra point is a reminder of who's missing, Los Angeles Times, September 12, 2007.
  5. Klein, Gary, and Crowe, Jerry. USC's Danelo found dead. Los Angeles Times. January 7, 2007.
  6. USC kicker found dead at bottom of cliff. MSNBC News Services. January 7, 2007.
  7. Danelo's blood alcohol level 0.23 at time of death. ESPN. February 5, 2007
  8. 8.0 8.1 Gary Klein, Mario Danelo's parents have an emotional visit, Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2007.
  9. Scott Wolf, USC freshman end Griffen gains reputation, Daily News, August 12, 2007.
  10. Gary Klein, Danelo is paid a tribute, Los Angeles Times, September 2, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.
  11. Ted Miller, Trojans had no BCS peer once Carroll arrived,, May 22, 2008, Accessed May 22, 2008.
  12. Gary Klein, Mustain and Williams connect in scrimmage, Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2007.
  13. Garry Paskwietz, Mario Danelo Mural Ceremony, WeAreSC, December 18, 2007.

External linksEdit

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