A Physical Freak and Gentle Giant, Haloti Ngata Emotional About Ring of Honor Induction

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Haloti Ngata

On Monday night, Haloti Ngata will take his rightful place alongside Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the other all-time great defenders in the Ravens' Ring of Honor.

But when Ngata watches the unveiling in M&T Bank Stadium, he'll be thinking of his parents first and foremost. It was his father, Solomone, and mother, Olga, who he always tried to live up to. Now their family name will hang in the stadium where their son starred.

Ngata's father passed away in a truck accident in 2002, during his freshman year at Oregon. Then his mother passed away three months before the Ravens drafted him in the first round in 2006.

"It's like a dream come true and will also be a bittersweet moment," Ngata said last week on "The Lounge" podcast.

"Both my parents passed away before I got drafted. [After] working so hard trying to make them proud, seeing my dad's last name up there being unveiled at the stadium is going to be such an awesome moment, an emotional moment."

Ngata teared up talking about the moment, showing a side that not every fan got to see.

From Oregon to Baltimore and beyond, check out the career of former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

When Ngata came from Oregon, standing in at a hulking 6-foot-4, 340 pounds, he was immediately viewed as a block-eating monster who could keep Lewis clean behind him. He certainly gobbled up his fair share of offensive linemen, allowing his teammates to make plays around him.

"He could take two [blockers] all day and not even blink," said Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman, who was an assistant offensive line coach in Baltimore for Ngata's first two seasons.

Though he played one of the game's least celebrated positions, Ngata made plenty of plays with his sheer otherworldly athleticism. He had 25.5 sacks and five interceptions in his nine seasons as a Raven.

"Haloti was one of the most athletic big men I've ever been around," said Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale, who was with Ngata for his final three seasons in Baltimore. "He played the shade, the three, the five; he could have played linebacker."

Ravens (and Steelers) fans will probably remember Ngata well for destroying running back Rashard Mendenhall and breaking Ben Roethlisberger's nose, which he noted as his career highlight when he announced his retirement a couple years ago. Ngata was fierce.

"Haloti is hands down one of the best players in Ravens history," Terrell Suggs said. "A physical freak, who could single-handedly control the line of scrimmage. He was the fiercest enforcer in franchise history and one of the best teammates I ever had."

Ngata played 13 NFL seasons (the final four with Detroit and Philadelphia). He was a Super Bowl champion with the Ravens in 2012, a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro. He had all the accolades.

But what not everyone saw was the gentle giant under the pads, at least off the field.

"He is a star as a person. He was a star as a player," Martindale said. "And the thing that you loved the most about him was he never acted that way. He was just a good dude and a great teammate, and I just miss having him around."

Head Coach John Harbaugh said two things stuck out in his mind as Ngata's coach for seven years – "a dominant player … and great family man."

"I knew just what a dominant player he was," Harbaugh said. "His personality, I thought, was interesting. [He's] just a softspoken, very classy person and a very humble guy."

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156: Haloti Ngata Stops By The Lounge

Ravens legend Haloti Ngata talks about playing elsewhere (7:05), the idea of being a Brown (9:45), playing with other defensive legends and his friendship with Terrell Suggs (14:08), hiking Kilimanjaro (20:28) and more.

Ngata and Suggs were extremely close, longtime locker mates who couldn't be much more different personality wise, but who bonded like few other teammates. Ngata also took other younger players under his wing, including linebacker Pernell McPhee.

"Everything he did, he was humble with it," McPhee said. "Every big play he made, he was like, 'I was supposed to do that.' And he loved his teammates so much. He was like a protector for me on the field. He just meant so much to me. I miss 'Big Boy.'"

These days, Ngata is playing with his four boys and enjoying the outdoors with his family. He loves hunting and fishing, and in 2019 hiked Mount Kilimanjaro to announce his retirement in spectacular fashion.

But when it comes to Monday night's speech, Ngata expects to have some "rookie" nerves. Don't expect it to go too long. "I hate public speaking, so I am going to have a lot of butterflies when it comes to Monday night," he said.

Ngata will have dozens of family members and friends with him at the game. His thoughts will be with the two looking down from above.

"Being able to show my parents through me is pretty awesome," he said. "I'm going to have all my siblings there and to share that moment with them and have them see our last name up there is going to be special.

"I never thought my name could be in a stadium. To be part of an awesome group of men and the Baltimore tradition of defense, I'm just so blessed and appreciative of what Baltimore has given to me and glad I can continue to be part of the history there."

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