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An In-Depth Look at Antonio Gates

Antonio Gates has had 104 touchdowns during his career with the Chargers. Take a look at top photos of some of those 104 TD's.

Antonio Gates went from college basketball standout to unknown free agent tight end to an unprecedented record-breaking playing career. Undoubtedly the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be the final stop for the soft-spoken, humble athlete from Detroit. 

However, the Hall of Fame must wait as he continues to be a dominant force for the Chargers who enters his 14th NFL season with a new two-year contract.

Gates has been elected to eight Pro Bowls and five Associated Press All-Pro teams. He's a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team (2000-09), one of the 50 Greatest Chargers of All-Time, a four-time Chargers Offensive Player of the Year, and a four-time Team Captain.

He enters the 2016 season holding franchise records for career receptions (844), receiving yards (10,644) and touchdown catches (104). All-time he ranks 27th in NFL history for receptions (third among tight ends), 38th in receiving yards (third among tight ends) and seventh in touchdown catches (second among tight ends). He needs just eight more touchdown catches to pass Tony Gonzalez for most by a tight end in League history.

Gates' 104 touchdown catches since he came into the NFL in 2003 are the most in the NFL over the last 12-plus years (2003-current). He has 21-career multi-touchdown games during that stretch, most by a tight end in NFL history. One of the most clutch receivers the NFL has ever seen, Gates' 37 touchdown catches on third-down plays are fourth in NFL history and most among tight ends. And his four seasons with 10 or more touchdowns are second-most in NFL history among tight ends.

Eight times in 13 seasons, Gates has led the team in receiving touchdowns. He's also led the team in catches eight times and in yards five times. Gates has 21 career 100-yard games, sixth-most in team history.

Gates missed the first four games of the 2015 NFL season due to a League suspension, but he returned to play in 11 of the Chargers' final 12 games, and he still ended the year as the team's third-leading receiver with 56 catches good for 630 yards and five scores.

The adversity that Gates faced and overcame in 2015 was slight compared to the personal heartache he dealt with just a year earlier. In July 2014, his younger sister, Pamela, died after a three-year battle with Lupus. Gates missed the entire offseason program so that he could remain in his hometown of Detroit, close to his family. Gates and his sister were extremely close and her illness hit him hard. With his football home halfway across the country from his hometown, Gates even pondered retirement. The Chargers remained supportive and Gates stayed by Pamela's bedside even as she lie in a coma for weeks prior to her passing. She died the day he ultimately returned to San Diego to join his teammates for the start of training camp. Gates made his peace with Pamela's illness before returning to Southern California, and it provided both inspiration and a springboard for what lie ahead. Gates started the season on a tear. He caught nine touchdown passes in the team's first eight games, tying the team record for touchdowns in the first half of a season, and he ended the season with 12, tied for most in the NFL among tight ends and his best tally since 2004. Gates turned 34 two months before the 2014 season started and he became only the fourth 34-year-old player in NFL history with a 12-touchdown season, joining Chris Carter, Marvin Harrison and Terrell Owens.

Gates' route to the NFL has been well-chronicled. When he signed with the Chargers as an undrafted rookie in 2003, he had not played football since his senior season at Detroit's Central High School. He began his collegiate career at Michigan State under the assumption that he could play both football and basketball. But when football coach Nick Saban relented, Gates chose to focus on hoops and decided it was best to leave the East Lansing campus. An up-and-down start to his basketball career sent him to three different schools before he finally found a home at Kent State. He played there two seasons and helped lead the Golden Flashes to back-to-back Mid-American Conference championships and the Elite Eight of the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Gates ended his career as the sixth-leading scorer in school history and in Feb. 2010, he returned to the Kent, Ohio, campus to have his No. 44 jersey retired by the school.

With football as his platform, Gates has become a prominent community figure. When the NFL sought out spokespeople to appear in their "No More" campaign to stop domestic violence in 2014, Gates was among a select group of players asked to appear in a series of television public service announcements. Locally, he's hosted the Shop with a Charger event that became one of the most popular holiday events in San Diego, as Gates hosted homeless, neglected and abused children to a special night that included a Christmas shopping spree. He also has been a staunch supporter of the Huntington's Disease Society of America, serving for a number of years as the honorary chairman for the Shoot to Cure HD, which raises much-needed research funds for the HDSA. And Gates works closely with Promises2Kids, an organization that offers support to San Diego's foster youth community.

In his hometown of Detroit, Gates is involved in boxing as the owner of AG Promotions. He has a stable of young fighters and regularly stages fight cards in and around Detroit. Gates' paternal grandfather, Henry Hank, was a professional boxer in the 1950s and '60s who went 62-31-4 with 40 wins by knockout as a middleweight and light heavyweight. Hank's 1962 fight against Joey Giardello was voted the Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine. Old photos show a striking resemblance between Gates and his grandfather. Gates now works with his cousin, Tony Harrison, who is one of boxing's top young middleweights. Harrison is off to a 23-1-0 record with 19 wins by knockout to start his career.

Gates' wife, Sasha, is an aspiring R&B musician who is due to release her first album in 2016. Besides being a mother to the couple's two children, Sasha stars on the E! reality show WAGS. She also helps run the Dolling Foundation, which inspires women to maintain a strong sense of self by enhancing their natural beauty that was compromised by hair loss due to catastrophic illness or tragedy.

TRANSACTION HISTORY: Signed with Chargers, May 2, 2003…signed six-year contract Aug. 22, 2005...signed six-year contract through 2015, July 28, 2010...signed two-year contract, March 14, 2016.

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