How Tua Tagovailoa was shaped by Bay Area before Alabama QB stardom


How Tua Tagovailoa was shaped by Bay Area before Alabama QB stardom

Long before his heroic throw gave Alabama a thrilling title win last year, long before he was a Heisman Trophy finalist for his sensational sophomore season, and long before he led the Crimson Tide back to the national championship as the man in charge this year, Tua Tagovailoa had Bay Area roots.

It all started years before the Alabama quarterback even was born.

Galu Tagovailoa, Tua's father, lived off Petaluma Hill Road in Santa Rosa while playing for a junior college that has produced multiple Division I quarterbacks. Galu had his hand in the dirt, though.

Even as a freshman in 1989, Galu was considered a leader on the Santa Rosa Junior College defense as a top lineman. He played at the school for two years, until 1991.

Galu's football career ended there but not by choice. He didn't have the chance to play at the next level like so many other Bear Cubs, even some who went to the NFL, like former second-round draft pick Koa Misi. Instead, Galu had to come back to Hawaii and help his family financially.

When asked Saturday at College Football Playoff National Championship media day, Tua made it clear his father has kept his playing days to himself. "No he hasn't. He really hasn't," he said when asked if Galu has talked to him about playing football at SRJC.

Seven years after Galu left Santa Rosa, Tua was born, and quickly, a quarterback prodigy was being developed. As early as 2 years old, Tua would go to the ocean with his father but not for your ordinary day at the beach. 

"We would go to the beach to train," Galu said in an ESPN segment that also revealed he wrongfully hit Tua with a belt after he threw an interception.

In high school, Tua's rise really started in Oakland.

At The 2016 Nike Opening, a showcase for the area's top high school talent, Tagovailoa flew in from Hawaii and showcased his talent, as did future Alabama teammate Najee Harris, an Antioch High School star. Tagovailoa's arm strength and accuracy were on full display.

While in the Bay Area over that May weekend, Tagovailoa even visited Cal. 

Because of that impressive showing in Oakland, Tagovailoa earned an invite to The Opening Finals and the Elite 11 Finals, the two most prestigious events for high school quarterbacks. He won MVP honors at both of them. 

That weekend in Oakland sparked a huge next few months for Tagovailoa before his senior season at St. Louis High School in Honolulu, where he led the Crusaders to the state championship. 

[RELATED: Alabama NFL draft prospects 49ers, Raiders fans should watch]

So, while Hawaii made Tagovailoa, the Bay Area is a close second, even if he grew up rooting against the 49ers. Those same roots are following him to Monday night's title game against Clemson at Levi's Stadium. 

"There's a lot of family out here in the Bay Area," Tagovailoa said Saturday, with reports of hundreds representing him at the game.

Tagovailoa was raised on Ohana, but expect that same family to get hella loud when the left-hander tosses his first touchdown pass against the Tigers.

Ex-Cal football player Eric Stevens fighting for ALS cure after diagnosis


Ex-Cal football player Eric Stevens fighting for ALS cure after diagnosis

Former Cal Bears fullback Eric Stevens now is a Los Angeles City firefighter. He knows what it's like to put others' lives ahead of his own. 

Now, his family hopes those will return the favor.

Stevens was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 29, soon after getting married to the woman of his dreams.

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Let’s help Eric #axeALS!!!! #TeamStevensNation

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"The diagnosis and subsequent education they received about the horrific disease was the worst news one could ever imagine," a Facebook post dedicated to "Team Stevens Nation," described.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a debilitating and incurable disease that causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles. With a life expectancy between two and five years, paralysis comes much quicker. And there is much unknown about it. 

While there are many treatments going through clinical trials that are showing promise, there is still a 50 percent chance those could receive a placebo over the actual treatment.

"There is NO reason why a person with a terminal diagnosis should receive placebo over the actual treatment," the Facebook page explains. "Another downside to these clinical trials is they are a year-long process, and time is the one thing ALS patients don't have. Every single day without treatment is a day lost."

Those can donate to and share the family's GoFundMe page here

Stevens, now 30, totaled 14 carries for 53 yards, and 13 catches for 82 yards and one touchdown in his career at Cal that spanned from 2008-2012. But despite playing sparingly, he was voted team captain.

He was signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2013, but never played a snap in the NFL.

[RELATED: A's Piscotty accepts prestigious Hutch Award]

"Given his strong determination and success in anything he puts his mind to, Eric has chosen to fight and advocate for getting drugs and treatments available to patients NOW," the Facebook group wrote. "Eric's goal with the help of his family and friends is to raise awareness for ALS and act now toward getting treatments available."

Gavin Newsom signs 'Fair Pay to Play' act with LeBron James on 'The Shop'


Gavin Newsom signs 'Fair Pay to Play' act with LeBron James on 'The Shop'

Monday was a monumental day in college athletics.

California Governor Gavin Newsom went on HBO and Uninterrupted's "The Shop" to formally sign California's "Fair Pay to Play" act alongside Lakers star LeBron James.

The law will allow college athletes in the state of California to profit off the use of their name, image and likeness, and will make it illegal for universities to revoke a student's scholarship for accepting money. The bill will not pay athletes to play, but it will allow them to sign agents and seek out business deals.

"[Signing the bill] is going to initiate dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation," Newsom said on "The Shop" prior to signing the bill. "And it’s going to change college sports for the better by having now the interests, finally, of the athletes, on par with the interests of the institutions. Now we’re rebalancing that power arrangement."

The bill will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

Warriors forward Draymond Green has been a vocal proponent of the bill, and he gave Newsom props after the signing.

Newsom's bill has faced blowback from both California schools and the NCAA, as it would make it impossible for those schools to follow the NCAA's amateurism rules. The NCAA has called the bill unconstitutional and will challenge it in court.

The NCAA responded with a statement.

The Pac-12 also issued a statement. 

[RELATED: Draymond supports California bill for NCAA athletes]

The signing of the bill is expected to cause an avalanche of states to pass similar legislation and fundamentally change how amateurism and college athletics are viewed.

Well done, Gov. Newsom.