Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga recently participated in ESPN’s My Path to the Pros series, which details the journeys of several NFL players and other professional athletes and how they’re now living out their dreams of playing their favorite sport at the highest level.
Defensive tackle Domata Peko was also part of the series, and ironically enough, he and Maualuga are both of Samoan descent, and faced many obstacles in not only getting to the NFL, but just getting to play the sport they grew to love.
Maualuga spent his youth moving from California, Hawaii and Samoa, before he and his family settled in California and enrolled him into Eureka High School:
I’d say the biggest turning point in my life, when I realized I needed to make something of myself, was after my dad died. I was 18, and I’d just graduated from high school. I needed him to be there, to show me the way after I’d made mistakes. But he wasn’t, and I kept blaming myself and blaming him for his absence. Finally, there was a point where I just said to myself, “I’ve got my mom left. She’s the rock.” After that, I knew I had to give football everything I had to give my mom a happy, comfortable life.