Alualu's spiritual beliefs reflected on, off the field
• Photo gallery: Tyson Alualu
By Curtis Murayama
Advertiser Sports Editor
Whenever California defensive end Tyson Alualu made a big play for the Bears football team he would gaze to the heavens and point.
When he gets a call from an NFL team selecting him in this week's draft, he "definitely" will be making his point.
"In my heart, it's just praising God, giving him the glory for just getting me this far and (for) giving me this opportunity," said Alualu, a 6-foot-2ﬁ, 298-pounder who starred at Saint Louis School.
It is this strong belief system that brings order to his life and drives him to this day.
It has enabled him to overcome a difficult upbringing, endure his transition to college, shape his family beliefs, excel with the Bears, and be put in position to become a millionaire in the NFL.
Alualu is expected to be selected within the first three rounds of the NFL draft, which starts with the first round tomorrow and the second and third rounds Friday. Even players chosen in the second round — an area Alualu likely will land — sign bonuses worth millions. He is expected to be the first player with Hawai'i ties drafted.
As a player he brings energy, determination, along with skill (4.87 speed in the 40, 24 repetitions of 225 and a 35 1/2 vertical jump). His time over 10 yards is 1.70 seconds, which was the fastest among the top interior defensive line prospects.
"He's one of my favorite players in the draft," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has said. "He's a three-down player; he's got a great motor and tremendous hands. He'll be an eight- to 10-year starter in the league."
As a person, family member, husband and father he brings even more.
"He's like really humble, a strong man of God, great father, wonderful husband. Just an overall great person," said Alualu's wife, Desir[0xe9].
His humility might have come from his upbringing, which eventually bonded the family.
"My dad — I was in the third grade — was in and out of prison," Alualu said. "Me and my siblings were always on the run from him. ... until he changed and gave his love to God."
His father, Ta'avao, is now a pastor at Solid Rock Fellowship Assembly of God in Kalihi, and according to Alualu, speaks openly about his past.
"From who he was and making that change. That's a powerful testimony of how God changed his life," he said.
Alualu said his father changed his ways about 15 years ago and said that things "have been good since."
"Both my parents, they've done so much for me," he said. "(They) definitely made me the man I am today."
Some of those sacrifices included lending support at the start of college.
Alualu, who has eight siblings, attended summer school at Cal in 2005, but returned home.
"Mainly (it was) to come home, get married. ... homesickness (was) part of that," he said.
He returned to Cal in January with his wife and son and began his Bear career in 2006. Alualu became a starter his sophomore year in 2007 and eventually was named Cal's Most Valuable Defensive Lineman for three consecutive years.
He said he needs one more full semester to graduate.
Having his wife — who became a certified medical assistant after attending Western Career College in Emeryville, Calif. — at Berkeley made a world of difference, along with his faith.
While preparing for games, Alualu said he would "listen to all my worship music — things that clam me down and gets me ready. Before every game, I call my wife, (just to) hear her voice. That's another thing that calms me down, then saying a prayer every time before I go out (on the field)."
If he has a favorite verse, it's Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
"I like to keep a lot of scriptures in my head, but that one, I've always kept since I was young. That is the scripture that goes through my head, and my heart, before, during and after (games) ... just knowing that that's where my strength comes from."
NFL teams have interest in Alualu as an end in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.
He flew in for visits with New England, Dallas and Denver.
He even had a test with the Patriots.
After watching film with coaches, Alualu was asked to diagram a play they had just watched and explain each player's positioning and responsibilities.
"That was crazy man," Alualu said. "I had to know where cornerbacks went and what safeties were coming up. I didn't know anything about coverage. If you know all those things it'll help you out. It was a good experience. It all made sense."
How did he do?
"Aw man, I did real good. The (defensive line) coach said I killed it."
Alualu is currently training with Barry Toyama of Tactical Strength & Conditioning in Honolulu.
"The workouts that Barry gives me is very similar to the ones I was doing (at Athletes' Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz.). ... just as good, just as effective. I wish I was training with Barry in high school."
During the draft, Alualu said he will be with his family — a source of his strength and humility.
"I think that comes from being raised that way," he said. "Just another local boy raised here. No different from other people. Got siblings, parents. God has blessed me with things. I'm definitely taking advantage of this opportunity."
He said he remains humble and grounded "because of where I came from and everything I've been through. The more I get, the more humble I become and more blessings will come my way."
As he waits for his named to be called, Alualu can only reflect on his journey.
"Definitely excited to have (the opportunity). Definitely want to help provide for my family, the things that we could never afford and to provide for my little family I have now."
Alualu said it doesn't matter who drafts him.
"It's been a dream for me to play in the NFL," he added. "Wherever it is, I'll be happy. And blessed."