Vita Vea — the local kid — shines at NFL Draft


Vea shows off his Tongan heritage at the NFL Draft.

Sahil Saxena, Business Manager

At the 2018 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Vita Vea with the 12th pick in the first round. Vea was born and raised in Milpitas to a Tongan family, naming him Tevita Tuliakiono Tuipuloto Mosese Va’hae Faletau Vea. In his early years, his family did not have permanent housing and was moving around while living in motels, and all the while, Vea was said to be too big to play youth football.

Once beginning Milpitas High School, however, Vea worked hard and stood out as an athlete, where he played both varsity football and basketball, both of which were sports new to him. Vea terrified defenders as a 250 pound running back and also excelled on the defensive side of the ball. Following his illustrious high school career, he permanently moved to the position of defensive tackle at the University of Washington Husky, where he won PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. After being drafted into the NFL and signing his rookie contract, Vea was finally able to buy a home and have his family settle down.

“The one thing I do know is I’m going to get my mom a house, make sure my parents are comfortable over there with their living situations,” Vea told reporters at the NFL Draft. “That’s one guarantee.”

Although in the Bay Area, Vea’s family had always been die-hard 49ers fans and not Raiders fans. Playing with his life-long favorite team could have even been a possibility from the Draft, as he met with scouts from the 49ers and the Raiders as well.

I guess I was born into the 49ers. My whole family, they love the 49ers over the Raiders,” Vea said. “Anybody would say that would be awesome to play back home. That would be a great start to anybody’s career.”

He will now be rooting the most for his own NFL team, the Buccaneers, and is excited for the opportunity to succeed at the highest level.

“It’s every little kid’s dream to be here, growing up to be an NFL star,” Vea said. “Finally making it here, it’s kind of surreal to me. I’m just enjoying it, taking it all in and living in the moment.”