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Off Track: Tua Tagovailoa

December 16, 2018

From the ESPN website

Last Saturday morning, I drove past Pearl Harbor toward the part of the island that locals call “the country.” Following the signs for Ewa Beach, a small working-class town on the shores of the Pacific, I found the address for the Tagovailoa family. They’d invited me to their weekly party, where multiple generations gathered to watch the star of their youngest generation quarterback Alabama in the SEC championship game.

This house is where Tua grew up, formerly the home of his late grandfather, Seu Tagovailoa, who moved here from Vatia, American Samoa. They call it HQ, using military lingo that’s both familiar this close to Pearl Harbor and linguistically appropriate for the strict code that Seu passed down. On the wall outside, Seu painted the family name and a mural showing the traditional symbols of a high chief, letting any Samoan who drives past know that an important man lives here. Seu Tagovailoa died in 2014, and his absence is profound and far-reaching. Seu held what’s known in Samoa as a matai title, a mix of tribal leader and English lord. It is a broadly hereditary title but is bestowed by the extended family on the best candidate in each generation, not handed directly from father to oldest son.

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