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Tua Tagovailoa says his Mom, Diane, instilled peaceful, optimistic mindset

Joe Schad
Palm Beach Post
Tua Tagovailoa credits his mother, Diane Tagovailoa, with instilling a sense of peace and calm in his every day approach to life. This photo was taken after an Alabama game in 2018.

The snap was low and the ball was on the ground, but Tua Tagovailoa didn't panic.

It was third down and a Charger was about to club him in the back, but Tua quickly plucked up the ball and flung it high and far for 23 yards to DeVante Parker.

"I didn’t know the ball hit the ground until after the play," Parker, the Dolphins receiver said. "But Tua still put the ball in the right spot."

Total calm. Total control. Total belief that it would all work out.

"He is a glass-half-full guy," Miami offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said of Tua. "Everything is going to work out. Everything is going to get better. Everything is going to be just fine."

As Bob Marley once crowed, "Don't worry. About a thing, 'Cause every little thing gonna be all right." But for Tua, all of 22, what is the origin of that mindset?

"I would say that I probably get that from my mom," Tagovailoa said this week. "My mom thinks that everything is going to be good. She is a very optimistic person. She is very prayerful over her kids. I would say I get that from my mom. When everyone else panics, mom is the one to say, ‘OK everybody, relax. Everything is going to be good.’"

Tua's mother, Diane, and father, Galu, are consistently mentioned by Tua as having instilled the importance of family and faith in his life. Tua has expressed that his calm and poise are products of his faith, which is a key component of Samoan culture.  

Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa celebrates with his parents Galu and Diane after overtime of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia in 2018.

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Tua was raised in Hawaii, where it is said the "Aloha Spirit" represents the coordination of mind and heart, sense of self and the desire to think and emote good feelings to others.

Put another way, Tua evokes good vibes.

"I think overall he’s just a positive guy," Miami receiver Malcom Perry said. "He doesn’t let negativity get to him. He tries to look to the next play if something negative happens. He’s always encouraging his teammates, whether something bad happened or something good happened. It helps the team. It helps the offensive huddle. And I think it’s a positive thing for the organization as a whole.”

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) hugs Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (19) after win over the Los Angeles Chargers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, November 15, 2020.  (ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST)

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The quarterback is the player everybody on the field, in the locker room as well as in the stands watches. How is his body language? Does he appear rattled?

Tua's overwhelmingly positive intangibles were a key factor in Miami's decision to choose him as the face of the franchise for years to come.

"Every day he kind of comes in and has a smile on his face," veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said last month. "In times like this where you’ve lost a few and the outside world thinks the sky is falling, it’s nice to have those guys walking through the locker room upbeat and with a smile on their face."

Gailey, the veteran offensive coordinator, says Tua is an excellent student of the game. He's focused. He's disciplined. He wants to please his coaches.

"If the trainer says hop on your right foot 20 times, he hops on his right foot 20 times even if you’re not looking," Gailey said. "Tua will do all of the little things to get where he needs to be. He has no reservations about any of that. He enjoys it. He enjoys the challenge.”

All of that was instilled in the home, first, of course. As well as the belief that everything happens for a reason, even a devastating, potentially career-impacting hip injury.

After all, how many young players would be filmed singing and playing a ukulele in his hospital bed before a critical surgery?

Things aren't always going to go as planned on Sunday. Tua said that the offensive coordinator, Gailey, and the quarterbacks coach, Robby Brown, are in the back of his mind, having coached him to be decisive.

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On that play against the Chargers that began with the ball in the grass, Tua felt prepared.

"When the ball was on the ground, already in my head I knew where I wanted to go with the ball as far as my pre-snap read," Tagovailoa said. "So I got the ball, took a peek a little bit before I threw it, and with DeVante, you’ve just got to give him an opportunity to go up and get it. To me, I like my chances with giving him a chance.”

This is my message to you-ou-ou. 

Tua's mom, Diane, has always said things are going to turn out fine.

"Eventually they do become good," Tua said. "Even when they are not, they end up getting good.”

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) prepares to enter game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, October 18, 2020. (ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST)