Tamba Hali
At a game in Denver in November, 2010.
No. 91     Kansas City Chiefs
Outside linebacker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1983-11-03) November 3, 1983 (age 36)
Place of birth: Gbarnga, Liberia
High School: Teaneck (NJ)
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Weight: 275 lb (125 kg)
Career information
College: Penn State
NFL Draft: 2006 / Round: 1 / Pick: 20
Debuted in 2006 for the Kansas City Chiefs
Career history
* Kansas City Chiefs ( 2006–present)
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
* Unanimous All-American (2005)
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2013
Tackles     446
Quarterback sacks     73.5
Interceptions     2
Forced fumbles     27
Stats at

Tamba Boimah Hali (born November 3, 1983) is a Liberian-born American football outside linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Pennsylvania State University, and earned All-American honors. The Kansas City Chiefs chose him with the 20th overall pick of the 2006 NFL Draft, and he has been selected for the Pro Bowl four times.

Early yearsEdit

Hali was born in Monrovia, Liberia. He fled civil war-torn Liberia at age ten, joining his father Henry, a Fairleigh Dickinson University chemistry professor and Teaneck High School chemistry teacher, in the United States. He was motivated to become an NFL-caliber player by his desire to reunite with his mother, Rachel Keita, and bring her to the United States after not having seen her for more than twelve years.

He attended Teaneck High School in Teaneck, New Jersey, and played for the Teaneck Highwaymen high school football team. He was named a high school All-American and the No. 1 overall college football prospect in New Jersey. He also lettered in basketball.[1]

College careerEdit

Hali received an athletic scholarship to attend Pennsylvania State University, where he played for coach Joe Paterno's Penn State Nittany Lions football team from 2002 to 2005. Following his senior season in 2005, was recognized as a unanimous All-American, the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, and a first-team All-Big Ten selection. He was instrumental in helping the Nittany Lions finish 11–1, winning the Big Ten championship and the Orange Bowl that season.

He led the Big Ten with 11 sacks (tied for eighth nationally) and 17 tackles for loss and earned numerous accolades for his play. He was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented to the nation's top defensive player, and the Ted Hendricks Defensive End Award.

Hali's season sack total is tied for sixth-best at Penn State and his 36 career tackles for loss are tied with Matt Millen for tenth best. Hali received the Robert B. Mitinger Award, which is given to the Nittany Lion football player who best personifies courage, character and social responsibility.

Hali was named defensive most valuable player (MVP) of the 2006 Senior Bowl.

Professional careerEdit

2006 NFL DraftEdit

Hali entered the 2006 NFL Draft ranked as the #3 defensive end behind Mario Williams and Kamerion Wimbley. Tamba spent some time as a DT in college. At 6-3, 275, Hali was slightly undersized for a defensive end in a 4–3 defense, and was not initially projected to be a good fit at pass rushing OLB in a 3-4 defense.[2]

There was not much pre-draft hype for Hali heading into the 2006 NFL Draft until The Sporting News made his amazing story of escape from war-torn Liberia at age 10 their April 21, 2006 cover story.[3] NFL scouts began to take notice, reporting that Hali presented himself in an excellent manner not only in his workout but also in his interview at the NFL Combine. Hali was chosen 20th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in a surprise move. Hali was projected by many analysts to be selected later in the draft, but Kansas City did not hesitate to select the best player possible to help their struggling defense.

Pre-draft measureables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP<th>Wonderlic</th>
6 ft 3 in 275 lb 4.75 s 4.31 s 7.28 s 30 in 8 ft 10 in 18 reps<td align="center">17</td>

Kansas City ChiefsEdit

Making an early impression in Chiefs camp, Tamba Hali has earned the nickname of "The TambaHawk" (a take on "Tomahawk"), and the starting position for defensive end.

On July 31, 2006, Hali was excused from the Chiefs two-a-day practices at training camp in River Falls, Wisconsin and flew back to his home in Teaneck, New Jersey to be sworn in as a permanent citizen of the United States.[4] On September 28, 2006, Hali's mother Rachel arrived in Kansas City, Missouri and currently lives with Tamba on a one-year visa. On October 1, she saw her son play for the first time as the Chiefs shut out the San Francisco 49ers, 41–0.[5]

Hali won the Mack Lee Hill award as the top Chiefs rookie for 2006.[6] At the end of the 2006 NFL season, Hali led the Chiefs with 8 sacks, 3.5 more than #1 overall draft pick Mario Williams. In 2007, Hali had 7.5 sacks.

Hali moved to right defensive end for the 2008 season, replacing Jared Allen. In 2009 Hali was again moved—this time to outside linebacker—to accommodate new head coach Todd Haley's 3–4 defense. Hali's transformation from an undersized 4–3 DE to a 3–4 OLB was an amazing one considering his time in college as a DT.

In 2010 the Chiefs hired a new defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel. Hali finished the season with an AFC-leading 14.5 sacks, leading to his first invitation to the Pro Bowl. (Hali declined the invite, citing personal reasons.) Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli made the signing of Hali to a long-term deal his number-one priority that offseason. Despite a lockout being in place, the two sides signed a five-year, $60 million contract ($35 million guaranteed) on August 4th, 2011.[7]

Hali repaid this loyalty with an All-Pro season, racking up a career-high 83 tackles and leading the team in sacks (12) for the fifth time in his six seasons as a Chief.[8] He was named an All-Pro and selected to play in the 2012 Pro Bowl.[9] Hali started all 16 games in 2011 and finished second in sacks in the AFC. He tied for third in the conference with four forced fumbles, and racked up 79 tackles, a team-best 12 tackles for loss, and 31 quarterback pressures.[9] Hali moved into fourth place the Chiefs’ career sacks list that season.[9]

On August 20, 2012, the NFL suspended Hali for one game for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy.[10] On December 26 2012, Hali was announced the starting Outside Linebacker for the AFC Division in the 2013 Pro Bowl.

Career statisticsEdit


2006 Kansas City 16 61 44 17 4 8.0 5 1 1
2007 Kansas City 16 58 46 12 2 7.5 2 0 0
2008 Kansas City 16 54 43 11 2 3.0 3 1 0
2009 Kansas City 16 62 44 16 1 8.5 4 0 0
2010 Kansas City 15 47 29 12 3 14.5 4 2 0
Total 125 449 345 104 13 73.5 27 6 2

Personal lifeEdit

Hali has an older half-brother, also named Tamba. This stems from a tradition in the Kissi culture wherein the second son born to a woman is always named "Tamba." (The first is traditionally named "Saah.") When the Hali family is together, they call the eldest "Big Tamba" and his 6 ft. 3 in. (1.91 m), 275-pound (125 kg) half-brother "Little Tamba".[3] He also has a brother (Saah Hali) who is a middle school Social Studies teacher in Teaneck, New Jersey. Hali in his spare time writes rap music and has a recording studio in his basement. Hali became a U.S. citizen on July 31, 2006.[4] Hali also holds a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Rener Gracie.


  1. Tamba Hali player profile, National Football League Players Association. Accessed July 24, 2007. "Attended Teaneck High School in Teaneck, New Jersey. ... Named All-America by G&W."
  2. "Tamba Hali". Sports Illustrated.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "By the grace of God, I am alive", The Sporting News, April 13, 2006
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Chiefs rookie Hali becomes U.S. citizen",, August 1, 2006
  5. Chiefs defender Hali's mom finally sees him play Associated Press, 2 October 2006.
  6. "Larry Johnson, Tamba Hali earn Chiefs awards", Daily Capital News/Post-Tribune via the Associated Press, January 12, 2007.
  7. "Reluctant superstar: Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali getting job done, even if he does so quietly". The Washington Post. 2011-12-20.[dead link]
  8. Looney, Josh (2012-01-06). "Johnson and Hali earn AP All-Pro honors". Kansas City Chiefs.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "Two Chiefs Named to 2012 Pro Bowl Roster". Kansas City Chiefs. 2011-12-27.
  10. Skretta, Dave (August 20,2012). "NFL Suspends Chiefs LB Tamba Hali 1 Game". Associated Press. ABC News. Retrieved August 20, 2012.

External linksEdit

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