NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- The star quarterback and the waitress met six months ago, at a restaurant where she worked and his family often ate. He was married and 16 years older, but she seemed happy and eager to build a life with him.
Steve McNair was retired from the NFL and spending time again in Nashville, where he had spent the best years of his career. Sahel Kazemi was 20 and swept up: He gave her an Escalade for her birthday and took her on trips to Las Vegas and Key West.
"She just had it made, you know, this guy taking care of everything," her nephew, Farzin Abdi, said Monday.
They were found dead on July Fourth -- McNair from two gunshots each to the head and chest, Kazemi from a single shot. Kazemi bought the handgun found under her body less than two days before, police said Monday. They haven't yet linked the weapon to the shootings.
Kazemi appeared confident the pair would last and had introduced her family to McNair, her nephew said. Abdi quoted her as saying McNair was divorcing his wife and that it would be finalized soon.
"I think she had already put her stuff up for sale on Craigslist," Abdi said.
Early Thursday, police stopped Kazemi on Broadway. She was driving the Escalade SUV that McNair gave her for her birthday in May.
According to an arrest affidavit, Kazemi had bloodshot eyes and alcohol on her breath. She refused a breath test and told an officer "she was not drunk, she was high." She was charged with DUI. McNair was with her but not charged. and he later made her bail.
The two then apparently spent time apart. According to police spokesman Don Aaron, McNair wasn't with Kazemi when she bought the semiautomatic pistol found at the scene. Police have declined to say who sold it to her.
The next night, McNair was out late with friends, but he and Kazemi got together soon after at a downtown condo within sight of the Titans stadium, a pad McNair shared with a friend. A witness told police the quarterback arrived between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Her car was already there.
When McNair's roommate, Wayne Neeley, got to the condo at midday, what he thought he saw was his friend sitting on the couch and Kazemi lying on the floor. So he went into the kitchen. Then he saw the blood, police said.
Officers said they found a gun under her body. There were no signs of forced entry into the condo. Police labeled McNair's death a homicide Sunday but said they were reviewing every possibility before labeling Kazemi's.
Mechelle McNair, his wife of 12 years and mother of two of his four sons born between 1991 and 2004, has been described by police as very distraught and has not commented on his death.
No court records of divorce proceedings have surfaced so far. The strongest public evidence that the McNairs might have been estranged is that their 14,000-square-foot Nashville home has been up for sale recently, listed at $3 million.
Some close to McNair -- his brother Fred and his agent Bus Cook -- have said they knew nothing of Kazemi before the shootings.
Aaron said a solution to the case, now awaiting ballistics and gunpowder residue tests, might not be as neatly resolved as people would like.
"It may be we'll never know exactly why this happened," he said.
Earlier this year, Kazemi and McNair took trips to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Key West, Fla., and Mississippi, Abdi said. McNair had been seen at Kazemi's Nashville apartment two to three times a week, so neighbors often wondered whether he had moved in.
"They were together all the time unless he was taking his kids on vacation," Abdi said.
Kazemi was born in Iran but left in 2000, fleeing religious persecution for their Baha'i faith, Abdi said. They spent 2 1/2 years in Turkey before moving to Florida. Later, Kazemi dropped out of high school and, at 17, moved with a boyfriend to Nashville, where she sometimes worked two or three jobs.
McNair "liked her so much because they would go shopping and stuff and she would want to spend her own money," Abdi said. "The reason he said he loves her is because she's not trying to use him like other girls. She was different from other girls he had been with."