Marcus Mariota’s Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Toa and Alana Mariota, seen here at the 2014 Heisman Trophy presentation. (YouTube)

It’s well-documented Marcus Mariota hasn’t taken the traditional path to football stardom. The quiet quarterback from Hawaii has had highs and lows in his first NFL season, but the former Oregon Duck hardly shows it. He’s as calm as ever, even as the 2-7 Titans battle to keep slim playoff hopes alive.

Where does the humility come from? It starts back in Oahu, where a strong foundation laid the groundwork for Mariota’s future. His success can be contributed to his parents, Toa and Alana Mariota.

While the Mariota family doesn’t care too much for the spotlight, they’ve done plenty to ensure Marcus’ road to the NFL was a successful one.

Read more about the Mariota family below:

1. Mariota’s Parents Didn’t Want Him Playing Tackle Football

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Mariota after one of his first starts at Oregon in 2012. (Getty)

As a youth, Toa Mariota wasn’t allowed to play football. Growing up in American Samoa, he played everything else he could, including volleyball, rugby, and soccer. And because he was forbidden, he intended to pass the same rules along to his son.

So when young Marcus Mariota asked his father to play, Toa would only let him play flag football. Marcus originally lined up at receiver, but switched after encouragement from Toa.

It wasn’t long before Marcus was ready to step up to full contact. As the story goes, Toa was reluctant, but Marcus’ mother was the one insistent on letting him play.

Even then, Marcus wasn’t totally committed to football. He was an outstanding soccer player, and played for his high school team. He also loved to surf, and still does whenever he goes home.

2. The Family Sold Their House in Hawaii to Help Marcus Develop

Hard work pays off: Mariota has shined as the Titans rookie QB. (Getty)

Hard work pays off: Mariota has shined as the Titans rookie QB. (Getty)

When Marcus was breaking into football, his parents did everything they could to get him exposure. Unfortunately, Mariota had trouble breaking into the starting lineup for his own high school football team. To help coaches see Mariota throw, they sent him to various elite football camps. To help pay for these camps the Mariota family sold their house, which sat on a bluff overlooking Diamond Head.

The plan worked. Mariota didn’t start at St. Louis until his senior season, when he led his team to an 11-1 record. Before all of that, he had sparked the interest of Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, who noticed Mariota while he was studying tape on Jeremy Higgins, the all-state QB who had been preventing Mariota from starting. He passed word down to head coach Chip Kelly, who made sure Mariota was a Duck before he ever took a snap as his high school’s starting QB.

3. Mariota’s Father is His ‘Biggest Supporter & Critic’

From a young age, Toa Mariota has been supporting Marcus’ progression as an athlete. In his youth Toa was a rugby player, lining up at winger for games in his home in American Samoa. He started throwing the ball with Marcus when he was 9, and noticed that he threw a tight spiral for an undeveloped talent. The next season, Mariota informed the coaches of his sons passing prowess. He continued to give coaches the business through high school, when Mariota sat on the bench until his senior season.

Toa grew up in American Somoa, then lived in the Bay Area to care for his ailing grandmother. He came to Hawaii to attend Chaminade University, where he studied criminal justice. He’s been working in the Department of Homeland Security for over 25 years, and is now a supervisor in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch.

4. Mariota Gets His Kindness From His Mother

Whatever fire he didn’t get from his father, Marcus inherited from his mother, Alana. A woman of mostly German descent, Alana spent most of her youth in Alaska before her family moved to Hawaii. She attended high school there and was a pretty good athlete herself, turning down a swimming scholarship from Pepperdine. Instead she stayed local Chaminade, where she met Toa.

Mariota’s mom isn’t the type to dominate headlines, but in what little press she receives, you can gather what she’s like as a mom and person. When Marcus made highlights after a front-flip touchdown in college, he received a simple text from mom reading, “please don’t do that again”. After Marcus was set to enter the NFL Draft, Alanna sent an e-mail to an Oregonian reporter thanking him for his kind words towards her son in the past years. In it she wrote, “We are very proud of the young man Marcus has become.”

5. There’s Another Mariota Already At Orgeon

Oregon fans suffering from a Mariota hangover were given a lift this summer, when it was revealed that there was another brother waiting in the wings. Matt Mariota isn’t the prolific dual-threat quarterback like his brother, but is a versatile defensive player that can fit into Oregon’s undersized scheme. At over six feet and 230 pounds, younger Mariota can line up at either linebacker or defensive end.

Matt may line up for the Ducks on defense this season, but that wasn’t always the case. The younger Mariota, who his mother says is the best athlete of the family, used to be a quarterback in middle school. The story comes from St. Louis high school assistant coach Vinny Passas, who said “lots of quarterbacks broke my heart, but Matt broke it the most the day he showed up as a freshman and said, ‘I don’t want to be a quarterback anymore. I want to hit people.'”