Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Profiles: Troy Polamalu

May 14, 2012

Of American Samoan descent, Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu is known for his long curly hair probably as much as his heritage. Polamalu played his college football at the University of Southern California and was picked in the first round (16th overall) by the Steelers in the 2003 NFL draft.

With Pittsburgh, Polamalu has proven a valuable asset. He has been picked for seven Pro Bowls and was key in the Steelers’ 2006 Polamalu is one of the most-feared defenders currently in the NFL. Polamalu has been a member of two Steelers championship teams and has been selected to seven Pro Bowls since being a first-round selection out of USC in 2003. Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks. That next year, the team signed Polamalu to the biggest contract in franchise history, extending his relationship with Pittsburg through 2011 and making him one of the highest paid defensive backs in the NFL at the time.

Polamalu was also key in the Steelers’ 2009 Super Bowl win when he intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown near the end of the game. In January 2011, Polamalu was named the AP Defensive Player of the Year and the NFL Alumni Player of the Year.

In nine seasons with the NFL, Polamalu has racked up 457 tackles, 149 assists and 9 sacks.

His popularity as a player have made him a success in the endorsement area as well. Polamalu’s photo graced the front of the Madden NFL 2010 game, and he has a contract with Head & Shoulders playing on his iconic hair. He was featured in a commercial for Coke Zero mimicking the Mean Joe Greene advertisement from decades earlier.

Polamalu and wife Theodora are devout Orthodox Christians and have two children. Despite his rough play on the football field, Polamalu is a soft-spoken family man off the field. During the 2011 lockout, he took advantage of the time to return to USC and complete his education. He graduated that May with a bachelor’s degree in history.