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Tamba Hali

Sport: Football

Born: November 3, 1983

Town: Teaneck

Tamba Boimah Hali was born November 3, 1983 in Gbarnga, Liberia and was sent to the United States as a 10-year-old by his mother, Rachel, to escape the violence of the Liberian civil war. Tamba’s biological father, Henry, was a chemistry professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University and had managed to arrange a visa for himself and later his children, but not his wife. He also taught at Teaneck High, where Tamba went on to star for the football and basketball teams.

Tamba vowed to one day bring his mother to the U.S. and, as he grew to 6’3” and 250-plus pounds, he sensed the NFL would provide him with the necessary resources. After an All-American career as a defensive nd with the Highwaymen, he took an important step toward that goal when he accepted a scholarship to Penn State. Tamba played four varsity seasons at defensive tackle and defensive end for the Nittany Lions. As a senior in 2005, was named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. He had 11 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss that year as Penn State went 11–1. Tamba was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski and Ted Hendricks Award, and was the MVP of the 2006 Senior Bowl.

The 2006 NFL draft featured several elite defensive ends, including Mario Williams of North Carolina State. Tamba was smaller than others at his position, but the Kansas Chiefs grabbed him with the 20th pick, figuring he might make a better linebacker. After signing his contract, he brought his mom to Kansas City.

Tamba won a starting job on the defensive line as a rookie and led the team with 8 sacks. He continued his standout line play in 2007 and 2008, before moving to outside linebacker in 2009, when the Chiefs switched to a 3–4 defense. In his second season at the position, he led the AFC with 14.5 sacks. Tamba continued his progress in 2011, earning All-Pro honors for the first time. He led the Chiefs in sacks with 12, second in the conference. From 2010 to 2016, the team had just two sub-.500 seasons.

In 2012, Tamba turned in his second straight Pro Bowl season. He would be named to the Pro Bowl squad again in 2013, ’14 and ’15. He earned All-Pro recognition again in 2013. In 2016, Tamba signed a new deal that would make him a Chief for the remainder of his career.He worked as a pass-rushing specialist most of that season, making a couple of starts but playing in all 16 games. Tamba recorded 3.5 sacks, giving him 89.5 in his career—officially second all-time to Derrick Thomas on Kansas City’s career list.

In 2017, Tamba missed the entirety of camp due to injury and did not play for the Chiefs until November. At 34, his career was done. The Chiefs released him after the season. After football, Tamba devoted himself to improving educational opportunities for children in Liberia.


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