Los Angeles. Pullman, Wash. Tucson, Ariz. Wherever Haloti Ngata played, his father was in the stands — with smiles and hugs for people he'd never met.
"He's one of my biggest fans, and I've always just wanted to make him proud," Ngata said.
Solomone Ngata watched his son play 12 games for the University of Oregon football team in 2002. After the regular season ended, he spent an early December weekend on campus in Eugene, Ore. He then returned to Utah and his job as a truck driver.
Solomone was killed in a rollover accident just days later.
His son blamed God. Ngata retreated from family, friends and church, concerning himself only with football, which he thought would never hurt him. His reward was a wrecked knee and a year on the sidelines.
Haloti Ngata now knows he was being tested — and that he failed.
But he came back stronger.