Tua Tagovailoa traveled all the way from Hawaii to be the Alabama quarterback, and so have his parents, Diane and Galu Tagovailoa. Diane and Galu also moved from Hawaii to join their son in Tuscaloosa. Tua has a younger brother and sister who made the move as well.
Tua has a large extended family. According to AL.com, Galu comes from a family of nine, while Diane comes from a family of ten. Both of Tua’s parents are the oldest of their siblings.
After failing to take away the starting job during the 2017 season, Tua had thoughts of transferring, but his family encouraged him to persevere.
“It’s been like that since we were little; the support system from the community,” Tagovailoa told CBS 42. “It’s very family oriented down here, that’s the best way to describe it…I take a lot of pride in my culture. I’m full Samoan – the culture is most definitely different here than it is up there.”
Tua’s perseverance paid off after he was inserted into the national championship game in the second half, and orchestrated an Alabama comeback victory to win the title.
Learn more about Tua’s family and Christian faith.
1. Tua’s Family Moved to Alabama From Hawaii
It was a difficult decision, but Tua’s parents decided to move the family from Hawaii to be with Tua in Alabama. This also meant Tua’s younger brother would finish his high school football career in Alabama, and his sister would go to school there as well. The family released a statement to KHON 2 announcing the move.
“Thank you to the state of Hawaii for the support over the years,” the Tagovailoa family told KHON.
It may be far from home, but Tua’s parents felt like it was the best move for the entire family to be together.
“For us to be around my son Tua … that’s the main reason for the move,” Galu told AL.com. “We are a family and want to keep it as a family. That’s what the move is about.”
2. Tua’s Brother, Taulia, Is Committed to Play at Alabama in 2019
Like his older brother, Taulia is a highly recruited high school prospect. According to Rivals, Taulia is a four-star recruit and ranked as the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the country. Taulia will join his brother at Alabama in 2019, turning down offers from a number of other top programs including Michigan, LSU, Oregon, Tennessee and Florida.
“It was challenging for me,” Taulia explained Bleacher Report. “I want to make a name for myself, and I don’t always want to be in Tua’s shadow. But it came down to family. My parents won’t have to travel far to see my games, and Tua and I are also really close.”
Taulia is entering his senior season at Thompson High School in Alabaster, Alabama. Last season, Taulia threw for 3,820 yards, 36 touchdowns while completing 66 percent of his passes.
3. Tua Is Originally From Hawaii & Comes From a Samoan Family Heritage
There has been an influx of Hawaiian quarterbacks in both college football and the NFL. Marcus Mariota is widely known for what he did at Oregon, and now in the NFL with the Titans. Tua and UCF’s McKenzie Milton have followed in Mariota’s footsteps. During a 2015 interview with Sports Illustrated, Tua’s father explained that his success was a reflection of his entire family and Samoan heritage.
Seu envisioned Tua becoming a varsity quarterback but did not live to see it; when Tua talks about this, his voice trails off. Galu steps in, explaining that in Samoan culture, it is a great honor to have your name known. Not because it brings attention to the individual, but because a village, and a people, are glorified as one. Mariota is hailed as a hero both for his achievement and because he understands he is only one piece of an intricately woven Polynesian fabric. His name being known honors him, but it honors the elders in his family more.
“Hearing his name called over the loudspeaker, our name, that would have brought him, the head of our family, so much pride,” Galu says of Seu. In an ancient Samoan tradition, the paternal grandfather names the firstborn child. So “Tua” comes from Seu.
4. Tua Is Named After a Bird That Circled the Samoan Villages of Vatia & Aua
According to Sports Illustrated, Tua’s unique name came from his grandfather, and it was inspired by a bird that circled the Samoan Villages of Vatia and Aua. Much like Galu explained about Tua’s accomplishments, Tua’s name is about his community. Sports Illustrated detailed the inspiration for Tua.
Galu hails from the Samoan villages of Vatia and Aua, which are connected by a mountain ridge. Tua is named for a bird that circled the islands and, when caught and killed, was divided among the Tagoilelagi, paramount family, Ga’ote’ote, his sister, and the village. His name is a record of this tradition, and it is a great honor that his grandfather, tasked with passing on ancestral legends and stories, asked that Tua be called this. It means Tua plays not for himself, but for all who nurtured him.
Vatia, with its lush rainforests and limited development, isn’t well known by outsiders. Tua can change that. Many Samoans exhibit tautua, a selfless and fearless service for the good of the ‘āiga, family, and the village. But as Tua soars, he transcends this, elevating his family, his people, his community, calling out for others to follow. He brings recognition and honor to a sacred space. Do not celebrate Tua, he says. Celebrate Tuanigamanuolepola Tagovailoa. Celebrate us.
5. Tua & His Family Are Devout Christians
Tua comes from a family of devout Christians. His uncle, Tuli Amosa, pastors a church in Hawaii. According to AL.com, Tua attended mass with Nick Saban on his Alabama recruiting visit. Tua also toured the Church of the Highlands during his Tuscaloosa visit, and is now a member of the church.
“I was so surprised to see him at our youth Bible gathering, but that’s just who he is,” Tuli explained to AL.com. “You can tell where his thoughts are at, and he is like 10 years ahead of his age right now, which is an awesome thing.”
Tua spent the majority of his freshman season as the backup quarterback to Jalen Hurts. At halftime of the 2018 national championship, Saban decided to put Tua into the game after Alabama was trailing. Tua orchestrated an impressive comeback, and after the game he credited his faith for keeping him calm under pressure.
“All glory goes to God,” Tua told ESPN (via AL.com). “I can’t describe what He’s done for me and my family. Who would have ever thought I would have been here, right now in this moment. So, you know, thank God for that, and I’d just like to thank my teammates and coach Saban for giving me the opportunity.”