Hawaii pride swells for local boy Marcus Mariota - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii pride swells for local boy Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota accepts the Heisman trophy Marcus Mariota accepts the Heisman trophy
Ma'a Tanuvasa Ma'a Tanuvasa
Lisa Uperesa Lisa Uperesa
Toa Mariota and Alana Deppe-Mariota Toa Mariota and Alana Deppe-Mariota
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Across the state, residents have expressed genuine happiness for Hawai'i's own Marcus Mariota -- not just for his accomplishment as the Heisman Trophy winner, but the way he has handled himself through it all: always humble, always inclusive of others. It's a particularly proud moment for his Samoan community and Polynesians.

Hawaii News Now's Facebook page is flooded with posts from well-wishers, including "Vince N Faith" who wrote in part: "It's one thing to be from Hawai'i, but to be Samoan! Way to represent our people and Hawai'i! #ProudSamoan In his words, 'Fa'afetai Tele Lava'".

"The impact just shows you that if you dream big enough and work hard enough, that anything is attainable," said two-time Superbowl champion and former Denver Broncos defensive end, Ma'a Tanuvasa. The fellow Samoan says Mariota's victory brings not just a swell of pride and inspiration, but a tidal wave.

"We've got a President from Hawai'i. We got a guy who won a lot of Grammy's, with Bruno Mars, from Hawai'i. We've got a kid who just won the Heisman Trophy from Hawai'i, but you know -- we could always use a lot more doctors, nurses, teachers -- everybody has their specialty. They were born with a specialty -- it's about how you go about using your specialty and influencing others," Tanuvasa said.

Lisa Uperesa is an Ethnic Studies Professor at UH Manoa who specializes in Pacific Islanders in sports, who believes Mariota is a role model for all youth.

"I think the young women too, they're coming up as student athletes, playing lots of different sports, something like this, it's really something that is great for the whole community," said Uperesa.

As a fellow Samoan, Uperesa says it brought her and others great joy when Mariota thanked his family in Samoan during his Heisman acceptance speech.

"I think it was really big because he acknowledged that it's part of his ancestry, that he's part of the community, and to have him use Samoan on the national stage like that I think was a big deal," said Uperesa.

You can check out the St. Louis grad deliver the "Top 10" list on "The Late Show with David Letterman!" Monday night on KGMB at 10:30 p.m.

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