Manase Jesse Sapolu was born March 10, 1961.
Sapolu played 15 NFL seasons, winning four Super Bowls with the 49ers and earning two trips to the Pro Bowl. He did this despite a torn aortic heart valve, a dangerous condition that left him short of breath at times. Born in Samoa and raised in Hawaii, Sapolu has special appreciation for the success he achieved in pro football when he knows that so many others had the more typical American upbringing.
In his autobiography, I Gave My Heart To San Francisco, the man known to some as the Samoan Sage wrote about the importance of his heritage:
When I chose the University of Hawaii over schools from the Pac-10 and the Big Ten, one of the most important factors was the ability to play in front of my extended family.
In my mind I knew that when I chose my school, I would not only be playing for Farrington High School and my little town of Kalihi, but I would be representing the entire state every single time I strapped on my helmet. The pride of representing the people I grew up with far outweighed playing in the spotlight of the Pac-10 and Big Ten.