A year after being named to his first Pro Bowl, Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata!(/team/roster/haloti-ngata/9225ada6-37a5-4b66-9776-1b6e4df2fb50/ "Haloti Ngata") is having the best season of his career.
The 6-foot-4, 350-pounder leads the Ravens with a career-high five sacks, including one against the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday.
We sat down with Ngata to get to know him a little better.
After Ngata and his wife, Christina, experienced a miscarriage in 2008, Ngata became the father of his first child, Solomone Sam, 16 months ago. According to Defensive Line Coach Clarence Brooks, it altered the kind of man Ngata has become and even impacted his breakout season.
*Q: How has becoming a father changed you?A: It was just me and my wife for a long time. To have your own child, it makes you think about more than yourself. When it's just you and your wife, you're kind of just like selfish. You can do your own thing, do whatever you want. Having a son made me realize there are a lot of things more important than myself. It kind of carried over to the field. I'm more of a guy that tries to help the team than try to get stats for myself. It's actually made me get more stats, playing selfless. It's just been a great blessing.
Q: What's the best part of having a son?
A: He's at a fun age. When I read to him, he tries to say some of the words. It's pretty funny. ... I like reading books and playing with his toys with him.
*Ngata partnered with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) after his mother, Olga, died due to complications from diabetes in early 2006.
Q: How important is it to you to be involved with diabetes research?A: Growing up, my mom had no idea of the dangers of her just eating whatever she wanted. When she found out she had diabetes, she still didn't know much about it. I just want people to be more aware. If you eat healthier food, you can live longer. It's something for myself because I know I'm kind of prone to getting it now because of her. It's helped me to realize those things and try to eat healthier.
Ngata grew up in the Hawthorne area of Los Angeles for the first eight years of his life before his family moved to Salt Lake City. Ngata's older brothers, Finau and Solomone, were involved with the Tongan Crip Gang in both places.
Q: How did your tough upbringing help you become who you are today?A: Just seeing my brothers go through gangs and stuff and seeing how much trouble they went through, I didn't want to live that life. I just wanted to stay away from those activities and friends they were hanging out with. I just made friends of my own that I knew wanted to be successful and make something of their lives. I just hung with them and it helped me become who I am today.
Q: What's on your bucket list?
A: Travel everywhere – Asia, Thailand, Paris. I also want to skydive, but don't know if there's a parachute that can hold me.