Vai Sikahema: Mormon Athlete and Sportscaster

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Vai Sikahema Mormon athlete sportscaster

Vai Sikahema, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was an American professional football player and then a sportscaster. Sikahema was the first Tongan ever to play in the NFL.

Sikahema was born on 29 August 1962 in Nukuʻalofa, Tonga. He is an older cousin of fellow Tongan NFL player Deuce Lutui. When Vai was seven years old, his parents left him and his siblings in the care of relatives in Tonga, so they could attend what is now Brigham Young University-Hawaii. His parents worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center, affiliated with the LDS Church and the university, until they could afford to bring Vai over to Hawaii. Later, the family moved to Arizona, obtained legal status, and brought their other children to the United States. Sikahema's father trained Vai to be a boxer from the age of seven. He planned that Vai would make a living with his fists. But his father also wanted him to get an education. Sikahema attended Mesa High School, where he played high school football. [1]

Sikahema started college at BYU in 1980. He played football there for two seasons and then left to serve a full-time mission in South Dakota for two years. He returned to BYU for it's only national championship in 1984. By the end of his senior year (1985), he held an NCAA record for most punt returns (153) in a career. He graduated with a degree in communications.

Sikahema was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1986 NFL Draft. He played special teams for the Cardinals, the Green Bay Packers, and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was named to the Pro Bowl twice.

Upon retirement, Sikahema was "hired by then-CBS owned and operated television station WCAU in Philadelphia to do weekend sports. Surviving the station's sale to NBC, Sikahema later moved to weekdays and is currently the sports director." [2] In March 2010, Sikahema joined with The Philadelphia Inquirer sports writer John Gonzalez as the hosts of the Early Midday Show on Philadelphia radio station WPEN-FM 97.5 the Fanatic. Sikahema is the host of “Wednesday’s Child,” a segment promoting the adoption of children. The feature is sponsored by the National Adoption Center and the Freddie Mac Foundation. [3] He covered the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, and the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Always in great shape, Vai won a boxing bout against former baseball player Jose Canseco in a celebrity match (a knockout in the first round) and donated his winnings to charity. Sikahema lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Keala, and their four children.

In a BYU devotional address in November 2015, Presiding Bishopric First Counselor Dean M. Davies detailed the role Sikahema played in the city approval of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple. [4] On April 6, 2019, Sikahema was sustained as an Area Seventy at General Conference.

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