STAND podcast: The Junior Aumavae story, from school suspensions to NFL stadiums



The rags-to-riches American story never ceases to inspire, and Alaska’s own Junior Aumavae’s story is no exception. On the most recent episode of STAND with Kelly and Niki Tshibaka, Aumavae told his story, from being a kid born in American Samoa to playing football in the grand stadiums in the NFL, and the trials and triumphs he encountered in between.

Aumavae grew up in a Samoan household, one child of thirteen. His family moved from American Samoa to Hawaii to Washington state, before finally settling in Anchorage. At that point, Aumavae described himself as a “problem child,” struggling in school, constantly getting into fights, and falling in with the wrong crowd. This resulted in him getting suspended from school. 

“The road wasn’t always easy. During my time as a youth, there were a lot of troubles that I ran into…a lot of times I was spending my time with the wrong crowd…and ended up going down the wrong path.”

However, all this changed one day when, worried for his future, his mother sent him to the Valley to live with his sister. “That’s where I was able to find and get around the right people to change the trajectory of my future.” Aumavae recounted.

Surrounded by mentors, such as his sister, teachers, and high school football coach, Aumavae began to turn his life around. He emphasized the importance of focus during this time in his life, how learning to see and hear what others were saying was key in becoming a professional football player. Through hard work and focus, Aumavae was drafted into college football.

Life’s challenges, however, did not stop there. Aumavae suffered a multitude of potential career-ending injuries and resulting surgeries. At that point, everyone thought that his football career was finished. However, after being encouraged by his college coach and once again applying his incredible ability to focus, Aumavae fought his way back to football stardom.

Eventually, he was drafted to the NFL, playing for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets. He attributed his success to the significant amount of adversity he had to overcome to achieve it. “Many NFL players will tell you their story about adversity and how it made them stronger,” Aumavae told the Tshibakas. “You can have all the mentors in your life, but if the individual is not willing to pick up the tools and build their future, it’s all for nothing.”

Aumavae now has his own nonprofit, Elite Athletic Trend (EAT), where he helps youth to develop the skills necessary to prepare them for success. He also travels to business corporations and schools to tell his story and encourage people to focus on their strength and overcome adversity.

Aumavae’s story is one of perseverance and persistence. His example has influenced many for the better, including in his own family. Though he didn’t know it at the time, Aumavae’s determination, focus, and drive allowed him to take a stand against adversity and life’s challenges. His story will always be one we can look to for inspiration and reassurance of the good that comes from refusing to back down.

If you want to hear more about Junior Aumavae’s path from school suspensions to NFL stadiums, watch the newest episode of STAND. You can also view the episode on YouTube, Rumble, and your podcast streaming platform.

Kelly Tshibaka is the host of the podcast, TV, and radio show STAND, and the 2022 Alaska Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. She co-hosts the show with her husband, Niki Tshibaka.


  1. What a difference from the previous “Equity officer” the previous Assembly appointed mayors choice was.
    Or maybe we should look into his credentials as well to see if any credibility was overlooked.

  2. They had to go against Junior initially to show that you’re not allowed to escape their plantation

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