Sodexo USA / Flickr.com
  • Faith: Christian
  • Career: Athlete
  • Birthday:  April 19, 1981

Troy Polamalu is a former professional football player who spent his entire 12-year career as a safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL. As an eight-time Pro Bowl and six-time All-Pro selection, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020, his first year of eligibility. Polamalu played college football for the USC Trojans, earning consensus All-American honors in 2002. The Steelers chose him in the first round of the 2003 NFL draft. He was a member of two Steelers’ Super Bowl championship teams and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, helping them to another Super Bowl appearance.

He was also the head of player relations in the Alliance of American Football. Known for his “range, explosiveness, and impact on the field,” Polamalu is commonly considered one of the greatest safeties in NFL history and is credited with playing a key role in the Steelers’ success during the 2000s. Polamalu was born in Garden Grove, California. He’s of American Samoan descent. His father left the family soon after Polamalu was born, leaving his mother with five children. He spent his early years in Santa Ana, California. When he was eight years old, he vacationed in Oregon with his aunt and uncle for three weeks. Afterward, he begged his mother to let him live in Oregon. Concerned about the adverse influences in nearby Los Angeles, she sent him to Oregon to live with his aunt, uncle and cousins when he was nine years old. Polamalu described his uncle as a disciplinarian who kept him straight.

He graduated from Douglas High School in Winston, Oregon. While there, he played high school football, and after his junior season, Polamalu was named to the All-State first team and was the All-Far West League Offensive Most Valuable Player for Douglas High, which achieved a 9-1 record. He rushed for 1,040 yards with 22 touchdowns and had 310 receiving yards. On defense, he made 65 tackles and had eight interceptions. Despite playing in only four games during his senior season, due to injury, he was named to the 1998 Super Prep All-Northwestern team and the All-Far West League second team. As a two-way player, Polamalu rushed for 671 yards with nine touchdowns and had three interceptions.

What religion is Troy Polamalu?

Polamalu is well-read in the theology and history of early Christianity, which led him and his wife to convert to Orthodox Christianity in 2007. He made the Sign of the Cross after every play. Among his spiritual activities was a 2007 pilgrimage to Orthodox Christian sites in Turkey and Greece. He rarely gives interviews, but when he does, he speaks of the role his spirituality plays in his life. During his NFL  career, he prayed after each play and prayed on the sidelines. Both of his sons are named after Orthodox Christian saints.

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