Tamba Hali Reflects Upon His First Trip Home to Liberia Since 1992

The Chiefs linebacker recently spent time in his native country of Liberia


Some may call it acting unreasonably, but Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali would disagree. He says he's just sporadic.

Hali proved just how sporadic he could be earlier this month when the Chiefs gave him some time off from offseason rehab.

Rather than sitting at home, Hali used the time to take a four-day trip to his native country of Liberia, which, though peaceful now, is most often characterized by the civil war that took place there from 1989 to 2003 and saw the deaths of more than 250,000 people.

Hali escaped as an 8-year-old in 1992, and something recently came over him that made him feel like it was time to go back.

"Sometimes I just get up and do things," Hali explained in a press conference with the local Kansas City media Monday morning. "[With the time off, I figured] maybe I'll go home for a few days and just see how the country is and be there (physically), just to see because I haven't been back. When I got there, I was able to do way more than I anticipated."

Hali visited with Liberia's current president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and saw family members he hadn't seen in two decades.

"It was almost restoring their faith because we haven't had any contact with one another," Hali said. "They tell other people, 'That's our nephew, that's our cousin.' And they say, 'If that's your cousin or nephew, how come you're living in this condition?'

"People didn't believe them. Just to pop up on them the way that I did, they were rejoicing and thanking God. It was really pleasing."

Hali described several sights that especially stood out to him during his trip, the most of which strangely being the physical condition of the roads.

"Before, it was all dusty-type of roads," he explained. "Now we have real roads that can get you to places. Where I live is about three hours on the [new] real good road, but it would take you six hours before with the type of roads that we used to have."


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Hali used the new roads to actually make the trip out to his childhood home, which, to his pleasant surprise, was still upright.

"With all the war and everything that's happened, it's still there," he said. "I remember where I used to take my bath on the side of the house and where I was at the time when the fighting started. It was reminiscing. It felt good, especially having the people related to me there also be able to remember what I remember.

"It's not like I'm making it up, so they remember what I remember. We're kind of reminiscing the entire time. It felt good. They're living, I'm living; it felt good."

Hali recalled the early 1990s when the war began and how he felt with all of the destruction around him.

"I always remember I always wanted to join the fighting," he said. "I wanted to do that because I was a child, and everyone was doing it."

Hali's brother wouldn't allow him to, and that, Hali believes, likely saved his life.

"I may be dead," he admits now. "I don't think I would be living. I don't really see how life would be if I would have stayed and fought because all the people I knew as friends, they're dead."

Upon escaping, Hali began living with his father in New Jersey at the age of 9 and later attended and played football at Teaneck High School. Hali first played football at Teaneck and there he developed into a legitimate college prospect. Hali was recruited to and later started at Penn State.

In 2006, Hali was drafted to the Chiefs in the first round, and the rest is history.

Now as he enters his 11th season in the league, life is much different than it was more than 20 years ago for the 32-year-old Hali.

His successful pro football career has given Hali the means to travel wherever he desires, and for him, a means to help make a difference in his native country. 

"I want to bring awareness to the country," he said. "I don't formally have a foundation and everything I do as far as giving, I just do. I don't want to bring awareness to myself because of whatever reason, but with the country I'm from, there are needs.  

"There are things that the country needs and I think people can help, but if people don't know, they just can't do it, so I think I could be a great ambassador for our country back there."

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