EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Last night former Hawaii high school football phenom, Tua Tagovailoa made his presence known in the sports world, entering the college football national championship game in the second half with Alabama trailing Georgia by 13 points and then leading the Tide to an overtime comeback victory.
While Tagovailoa's performance may have shocked the Bulldogs and their fans, here on Hawaii there was nobody less surprised or more proud than his family who still resides in Ewa Beach.
About 30 of Tagovailoa's aunts, uncles and cousins all gathered at the family home last night to watch Alabama top Georgia 26-23 in OT behind the leadership of the true freshman. As Tagovailoa chipped away at Georgia's lead, his family watched, with plenty of excitement, and no shortage of confidence. And, in the moment that number 13 fired off that 41 yard shot to seal the Tide's victory, Tagovailoa's aunt, Pastor Sai Tagovailoa-Amosa said the 19-year-old fulfilled a prophecy that's long been destined for him.
"It's a prophecy that's been fulfilled because it's something that our parents - it was my dads vision," said Tagovailoa-Amosa. "He saw something great for all of his grandchildren, and Tua's very special because he was one of the oldest grandsons from my brother. My father really honed in on that ability that he had and he'd speak it with his grandson."
It wasn't just Tagovailoa's family that believed in that destiny. According to Tua's longtime trainer on Oahu, Kimo Luna, it's something the former Crusader was mentally preparing for long before the opportunity came to fruition.
"All he needed was the opportunity," said Luna. "He texted me a few days ago and he said he was going to get to go in for a little while. And, once he got in he was going to let the world know. And he sure let the world know."
Tagovailoa let the world know with that touchdown pass in overtime to DeVonte Smith. With that TD, and his second half performance, he went from being the back-up to Jalen Hurts, or the Alabama quarterback with the hard-to-pronounce last name, to Tua Tagovailoa, whose name dominated national news, with anchors across the country finally saying it right (or at least trying to).
Meanwhile, here in Hawaii, a community that's long known his name, his style, his ability, celebrated. The Tagovailoa family says cars have been driving by their house honking and cheering- congratulating his family who remains on Oahu. On Monday night, fireworks lit up the sky in celebration after Bama's win.
Tua Tagovailoa's aunts, uncles and cousins say they always expected their relative to realize his greatness. What's surprised them, however, is the amount of excitement and support the community continues to show in response.
"It's a very emotional time," said Tagovailoa-Amosa. "I think you saw that on the video as [Tua] ran over to his father, and my brother usually don't cry.. But, it's really amazing. It's a really amazing experience that has humbled us in so many ways."