The newest Eagles offensive lineman has14letters in his first name. But you can call him “Big V.” That’s what everyone else does — even his mom.
“She calls me ‘V’, but when I’m in trouble, she uses the whole name,”Halapoulivaati Vaitai told reporters late Saturday night after being selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft, No. 164 overall.
Prounounced”hal-lah-poo-lee-VAH-tee VIE-tie,” the name clearly stems from Vaitai’s proud Tongan tradition. But oddly, his two brothers are named simplyKevin and William.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” the tackle from TCU said of his brothers’ names.”Just ask my parents about that. I guess it’s just one of those things, you know. You’re the first one, they named me that, and after my brother came, they named them Kevin and William.”
Vaitai’sOceanic heritage is clear from just trying to pronounce his name. His football credentials are also clear as the lineman explains. His culture and upbringing molded him into a NFL athlete.
“We like to eat,” Vaitai said when asked about Tonga traditions.”You know, our community, we’re the most friendly people outside of sports, and we’re also competitive. All of us hate to lose. I really appreciate that because growing up a lot of my family members were competitive. You’ve got to take what’s yours, you know? You’ve got to go in there with the mentality to go out — that’s how — a lot of Polynesians are like that. But we’re just caring guys. We like to take care of each other.”