Long before he was sacking quarterbacks, Tamba Hali was facing bigger challenges. Learn about his life in this second book in a brand-new nonfiction series about the childhoods of your favorite athletes.
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali’s story seems almost unbelievable. He and his seven siblings fled war-torn Liberia to the Ivory Coast during his youth and later joined their father, a chemistry and physics professor, in New Jersey.
There Tamba played both basketball and soccer, but he didn’t discover football until a coach finally persuaded him to try out in high school. And the rest, as they say, was history. Tamba discovered that he had a real talent for it, landing him an athletic scholarship to Pennsylvania State University and a coveted spot on their football team.
Tamba went on to play in the NFL and finally brought his mother to the US from Liberia. His drive, dedication, and athletic ability are inspiring.
Part of Series: Real Sports Content Network Presents
Potentially Sensitive Areas: War
Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2017)
The story of NFL linebacker Tamba Hali’s path from a childhood in war-torn Liberia to becoming one of the Kansas City Chiefs’ all-time greats. After a just-the-facts–style rundown of Tamba Hali’s football career (and awards), this biography’s narrative proper opens early in the Chiefs’ 2006 season; they are winless after two games and down their starting quarterback. Their bright spot is seeing first-round draft pick Tamba (the book uses his first name) in action as the rookie achieves his first NFL sack along with a forced-fumble, right in front of his newly-arrived-to-America mother, whom he hasn’t seen in over a decade. After this charged anecdote, the rest of the story flows chronologically, taking readers through the Liberian civil war that started when Tamba was only 6. Brief historical explanations of Liberia’s origins and ethnic divides contextualize, and atrocities such as the use of child soldiers are mentioned without gruesome specifics, prompting only readers ready to handle the details to research it further. After escaping the country and a 2-year-long bureaucratic process, he and his brothers are allowed to join their father in America. A fearless, hard worker, Tamba tackles literacy and football, leading to high school and Penn State successes—with the dangling carrot of an NFL career that would enable him to bring his mother to safety in America. A companion title on soccer star Becky Sauerbrunn publishes simultaneously A positive, dramatic football biography likely to encourage global and historical research. (Biography. 8-15)
School Library Journal (October 1, 2017)
Gr 4-7-This biography focuses on the youth and early career of Tamba Hali, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. Hali, born in Gbarnga, Liberia, grew up during a devastating civil war. After years of enduring desperation and displacement, Hali and his brothers had to leave their mother behind in order to join their father in Teaneck, NJ. Assimilating into a U.S. school wasn’t easy, but it was there that Hali first encountered organized sports. He would eventually rise through the ranks of high school and college football to become a first-round NFL draft pick. Seigerman credits Hali’s success not only to his determination, but also to his coaches, from a middle school reading specialist to Pennsylvania State University football coach Joe Paterno (portrayed here as an inspiring figure, with no mention of the scandal that ended his career). The straightforward narrative drops off abruptly during Hali’s first season in the NFL, when he was finally able to bring his mother to the United States, but fans will know that his skills are still serving him well on the gridiron, where he’s recognized for his powerful sacks and tackles. VERDICT An accessible look at a dedicated athlete. Consider for collections serving football fans and those with an interest in refugee stories.-Rebecca Honeycutt, -NoveList, Durham, NC
About the Author
David Seigerman is a veteran sports journalist whose writing career began in newspapers (Newsday, The Jackson Sun) and moved on to magazines (College Sports Magazine). In 1996, he moved from print to broadcast media, becoming a field producer for CNN/SI and later the managing editor at College Sports Television. Since 2003, he has been a freelance writer and producer, and in late 2016, he cofounded HowFarWouldYouGo.org.
He lives in Westchester County, New York, with his family. His website is www.davidseigerman.com
Around the Web
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