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Laiatu Latu, the indomitable force anchoring the defense

for the UCLA Bruins, stands as a symbol of unwavering

resilience and gridiron excellence. Confronting a careerthreatening

neck injury and undertaking a transformative

journey from Washington to UCLA, Latu not only reclaimed

his position in collegiate football but has ascended to the

forefront as a leading contender for Defensive Player of the

Year.

Latu’s path to UCLA began in high school, where he

showcased his versatility as an outside linebacker and

tight end at Jesuit. His senior season was nothing short of

extraordinary, tallying 94 total tackles and an impressive

29.5 tackles for loss. His recognition as the Delta League’s

co-All-Purpose Player of the Year and participation in

the prestigious Polynesian Bowl further emphasized his

potential as a rising football talent.

Latu’s journey was shaped by the support and influence

of his family. Growing up with his brother Keleki and his

mom Kerry, Latu’s family expanded with the arrival of his

sisters, Melenaite and Aulani. Their shared love for sports,

instilled by their mom’s background in volleyball, basketball,

and various sports, created a foundation for Latu and his

brother to engage in rugby, basketball, and other sports.

This familial bond, steeped in a love for sports, was pivotal

in shaping Latu’s athletic trajectory.

The injury Latu faced early in his career became a turning

point, teaching him the value of a positive mindset and

the determination to never give up on lifelong goals.

His reminder that every day on the field could be his last

underscores his gratitude for the opportunity to play the

sport he loves.

Latu’s off-field pursuits reveal a multifaceted individual.

In his free time, he enjoys moments with his girlfriend,

playing video games with teammates, hiking, and going

beach outings with friends. His appreciation for UCLA,

acknowledging the university’s “chance” on him, reflects

a deep gratitude for the opportunity to learn from great

professors and earn a diploma at the #1 university in the US.

Latu’s journey is intertwined with faith, as he emphasizes

the importance of prayer in his life. Realizing the potential

end of his playing career has changed his outlook on life,

with a profound focus on the concept of “Your Last.” Latu’s

engagement in big brother big sister programs since high

school highlights a compassionate side, as he values being

a part of others’ lives and stories, cherishing the special

connection he holds dear.

Latu’s impact on the UCLA Bruins’ defense has been nothing

short of exceptional. Latu’s remarkable 2023 season, marked

by leading the nation in tackles for a loss and boasting the

most sacks among Power 5 conference players, solidifies his

status as a defensive powerhouse. UCLA head coach Chip

Kelly on Latu, “His work ethic is second to none, for him to

put up the numbers he’s done this year, a tremendous year,

but the stats don’t tell the story. The story about Laitu is

just about what a special young man he is, his resiliency, his

work ethic, and how much he cares about his teammates.”

In a season marked by resilience, unmatched performance,

and a deep appreciation for the opportunities presented,

Laiatu Latu has not only overcome adversity but has

emerged as a defensive standout for the UCLA Bruins. His

journey, from high school accolades to collegiate excellence,

reflects determination, skill, and a commitment to making a

lasting impact on and off the field.

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LAIATU LATU

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We’re always happy to pay tribute to the giants of the past whose shoulders we proudly stand on. With a tradition of recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of the brightest and best from our industry, we are happy to present the past winners below. If you’d like more information, feel free to get in touch.

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