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Fried Meat Ball!
10-02-2006, 07:08 AM
Rookie defensive end gets rare chance to play in front of mother

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Tamba Hali flashed a grin, but it had nothing to do with the Kansas City Chiefs' first shutout in four years.

The rookie defensive end from Penn State, who fled Liberia as a 10-year-old and hadn't seen his mother in a dozen years, spent Sunday showing Rachel Keita what has made him one of the most promising defensive talents the Chiefs have had in years.

"It was the first time she's ever seen me play," said the hulking defensive end, after Kansas City's 41-0 rout of San Francisco. "She's seen it on TV on VHS. Not in person."

Hali's mother arrived in Kansas City on Thursday, moving in with her son and taking advantage of a one-year visa to flee a nation that is only beginning to recover from a 14-year civil war that displaced Hali and his father, a chemistry and physics teacher.

It was refreshing, Hali said, to know that Rachel Keita was only a few rows up in the stands instead of constantly moving in a country under fire. Most of his teenage years were spent trying to keep track of family members, speaking to them only briefly on the phone every couple of months.

A comprehensive peace agreement ended the conflict in Liberia in 2003, and the last few years have been easier. The country continues to recover, overcoming social and economic turmoil that has marked a generation.

Phone calls to Hali's family are more common now, perhaps every week or so. But it wasn't until Rachel Keita watched her son on a football field, performing in front of more than 70,000 sun-splashed revelers on Sunday, that she could begin to understand the magnitude of what Tamba Boimah Hali has accomplished.

"It was just a great day," Hali said. "She don't really understand the game. The family is around her explaining it. I just wanted to come out here so she can see exactly what's been going on in the United States why every time I tell her to pray for me because I have a big game."

Rachel Keita might get the wrong idea about how easy this football stuff is, too.

Hali, who had 1 1/2 sacks in the game, helped the Chiefs defense hold San Francisco off the scoreboard for the first time since Sept. 26, 2004. He constantly harassed quarterback Alex Smith in what was only the second shutout against the 49ers in nearly 30 years.

"You don't get a lot of shutouts in the NFL," linebacker Kawika Mitchell said. "It's important. It's important to me, it's important to the defense."

And certainly important to Hali.

"It was great, just knowing that it was the first time she had ever been in the stands," said Hali, who admitted he was nervous with his mother looking on, and that it never really dissipated. "For my dad, it was the first time he'd seen me in the NFL."

There is little disputing Hali has overcome plenty of obstacles, on the football field and off.

In August he overcame another when he flew to his home state of New Jersey and successfully took the test to become a U.S. citizen. He hopes citizenship, along with his stature in the NFL, could make his mother's stay in the United States permanent.

Coach Herm Edwards has said Hali plays with a "heavy heart" because of what goes on in his native country. But these days, that heart is bursting with joy.

"If everything permits, hopefully we can keep her here," Hali said. "She's on a one-year visa. I figure if I can just get her out here to see my games, to get one year that's great."

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

CoMoChief
10-02-2006, 07:13 AM
Good for Tamba. I can't even imagine what it would be like being seperated from your mother at an early age like that. Most children would have major psychological problems and would often get into trouble with the law if they had to go through obstacles like that.

kepp
10-02-2006, 07:25 AM
Yeah, a lot of kids would be messed up. That says a lot about his Dad.

Hog Farmer
10-02-2006, 07:34 AM
They showed the family in the stands, Mother,father and I presume the young man that was dozing off was his younger brother.

Braincase
10-02-2006, 08:30 AM
I hope she never misses another game.

LocoChiefsFan
10-02-2006, 08:04 PM
It had to be really strange for her to see her son a full grown 260 lb man.Considering the last time she saw him he was just 10 years old,