One of my favorite things about the NFL Draft process are the stories behind the undrafted free agent signings. For most of us they are just a list of names that the Kansas City Chiefs sign for offseason practices. But each one has a story of enduring long odds to get a chance in the NFL.
Defensive lineman Charles Tuaau from Texas A&M Commerce is one of those undrafted free agent signings who will be trying to make the Chiefs roster this summer.
Tuaau was initially going to miss the start of Chiefs rookie minicamp this weekend because he wanted to walk across the stage at graduation. His mom and grandmother both had plans to fly in from Hawaii to see him walk. But he needed to be at the Chiefs rookie minicamp this weekend when his class was set to graduate, which means he would've missed his graduation.
So the school set up a special ceremony for him on Thursday night so that his family could see him graduate. A rep from Texas A&M Commerce passed along the pictures above along with some quotes from those in attendance, which I wanted to share here.
Every player has a unique story, including Tuaau ... We hope to bring you more of those stories in the coming weeks.
"This is a blessing for me. These last five years I have dedicated myself to school and to football, not only myself, but for my mom, grandma and family back at home. They all pushed me to succeed not only in school but in life at the same time. It was an honor for me to come to A&M-Commerce. They gave me a chance when I thought I wasn't going to have another chance. I thank A&M-Commerce for everything they did for me."
Freda Tuaau, Charles' Mom
"For him to complete his school (pause for wipe away tears). That was my thing to him was to finish school first before sports. He is accomplishing both, and I am happy for him. He is the first person in our family to graduate from a university."
Frelilia Faletoi, Charles' Grandmother
"It is very important to me and to this family because he is the first one of my grandchildren to graduate from college and to be successful in sports. I love him and congratulate him."
Dan R. Jones, A&M-Commerce President
"We are all very proud of Charlie. Of course he is a great athlete and has a great future. However, what we are most proud of is not only was he a great player for the Lions and helped us get back to where we need to be, but he put an emphasis on academics and is graduating at the same, which says a lot about our program and Charlie as a person."
Ryan Ivey, A&M-Commerce Athletic Director
"We are extremely proud and happy for Charlie. Being a first generation college graduate, Charlie has fulfilled a lifelong goal and provided himself the ability to do great things once football ends. Charlie has worked extremely hard to get to this point and he should be commended for his determination and perseverance. He is without a doubt, an example for all of our student-athletes and those who have to work to make things happen. We are extremely proud to call him a Lion."
Colby Carthel, A&M-Commerce head football coach
"Anytime you see a guy become the first of his family to graduate college, it's a really special deal. Charlie was determined from the start to get his degree and he did an amazing job finishing here in two years after transferring in from a junior college. As Defensive Player of the Year in the Lone Star Conference in his first season with us, he had a huge role in turning this program around in 2013. Despite being slowed by an injury his senior season, there is no way we would have won the 2014 LSC Championship without him on the team."