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 at Penn State, where he earned All-American honors, and was drafted by the Chiefs in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
Hali was born in Gbarnga, Liberia. He was sent to the United States at age 10 to escape civil war-torn Liberia; there he joined his father Henry Hali, a chemistry professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University who also taught the subject at Teaneck High School. He worked to become an NFL-caliber player because he thought it would help him raise the money to reunite with his mother, Rachel Keita, and bring her to the United States after not having seen her for more than twelve years.
Hali attended Teaneck High School in Teaneck, New Jersey, where he played for the high school football team. He was named a high school All-American. He also lettered in basketball.
Considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Hali was listed as the No. 5 strongside defensive end in the nation in 2002.
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.
2006 NFL Draft
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.
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. 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.
|Ht||Wt||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP||Wonderlic|
|6 ft 3 in||275 lb||4.75 s||4.31 s||7.28 s||30 in||8 ft 10 in||18 reps||17|
|All values from Penn State Pro Day, except measurables and Wonderlic (NFL Combine)|
Kansas City Chiefs
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. 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.
Hali won the Mack Lee Hill award as the top Chiefs rookie for 2006. 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 4, 2011.
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. He was named an All-Pro and selected to play in the 2012 Pro Bowl. 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, a team-best 12 tackles for loss, and 31 quarterback pressures. Hali moved into fourth place on the Chiefs’ career sacks list that season.
On August 20, 2012, the NFL suspended Hali for one game for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy. On December 26, 2012, Hali was announced the starting Outside Linebacker for the AFC Division in the 2013 Pro Bowl.
On March 8, 2015, Hali restructured his contract to free up $3 million in cap space to stay with the Chiefs. Throughout the off-season, it was believed Hali would be released. Hali made the Pro Bowl for the fifth consecutive year and was ranked 84th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.
On March 8, 2016, Hali signed a 3-year contract to stay with the Chiefs.
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."
On January 8, 2016, Hali's son was born.
In his spare time, Hali writes rap music; he records in a studio in his basement. Hali became a U.S. citizen on July 31, 2006. Following his rookie year, Hali began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under the instruction of Rener Gracie and is currently a blue belt.