Tua Tagovailoa's family remembers his biggest inspiration

(WIAT) - Long before Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa punched his ticket into Tide football history, his grandfather Seu Tagovailoa, known as 'Papa,' saw Tua's talent and believed he would do great things.

CBS42's Simone Eli sat down with Tua's parents to learn about his biggest inspiration.

Alabama's national championship comeback still has college football fans in disbelief, including Gula and Diane Tagovailoa, Tua's parents.

"When that next play happened and I saw the ball in the air. I told myself, oh my God he's open," Galu said.

The rest is history. A comeback commanded by Tua, stunning to some, but envisioned by his grandfather long ago.

"There was just something about Tua that he saw different," Diane said. 

At a young age, Tua played up with 8th and 9th graders - where the entire offensive line was made up by his cousins.

"Every week before the football games, Papa Tagovailoa would sit them own and tell his grandkids, 'Your job is to protect Tua'," Diane said. "'Tua better not touch that ground, because if he does, it's not going to be good'."

That year Tua's team went undefeated, he was never sacked.

"Papa saw something in him and he continued to speak on that as Tua grew," Diane said. 

Papa Tagovailoa became extremely ill before Tua's sophomore season when he took over as the starter at St. Louis High School in Honolulu.

"As sick as my dad was, there was a time Tua had a game and I told my dad, 'Don't come to the game'," Galu said. "He just insisted, 'I want to go to the stadium, I need to see my grandson', and he came and he was there cheering him on. Things kind of got bad again, we rushed him to the hospital and from that time on we just kept him there."

In July 2014, a case of pneumonia took Seu Tagovailoa's life. He never saw his grandson play a high school game.

"I mean he would be so proud. It can get emotional with me. because my dad was my life," Galu said. "That was my life. He spoke on things that I never believed, that I've never seen. He saw something that I never thought would come to where we are looking to today."

Tua would go on to earn nearly every achievable award by a high school athlete, and rank as the top dual-threat quarterback in the country.

"And so I was hoping my mom would carry that on for my dad," Galu said. "I was hoping she would see Tua's first college game."

Tua's grandmother watched his freshman spring game from her hospital bed, before passing away a week later.

"Her watching Tua in the A-Game, just gave her that sense of 'Everything is okay. It's okay for me to go' be with her husband," Diane said. "I think he'd be really happy, to see his name up there on the TV and hear it...he'd be really happy."

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