Akbar Gbaja-Biamila: Big Man, Come Save Me

Every Monday evening, my family is glued to the TV, watching NBC’s American Ninja Warrior. We watch as finalists compete in their regions to move on to the national finals in Las Vegas, where they face a four-stage course modeled after the famed Mt. Midoriyama in Japan. Yes, it would make sense to drink a Midori Sour while watching.

Alongside Matt Iseman as host is former NFL player Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, with a name so exciting, it deserves the spotlight for today’s post.

Adding his middle names only makes it better: Akbar Oluwakemi-Idowu Gbajabiamila.

  • Akbar is Arabic and means “great.” This Akbar is not to be confused with Akbar and Jeff, from Matt Groening’s Life in Hell comic strip.
  • Oluwakemi means “God blessed me.”
  • Idowu means “born after twins.”  His older brother Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, a twin, is the Green Bay Packers all-time sacks leader. Lucky for him, they fit the name on his jersey.
  • And lastly, their last name, Gbaja-Biamila means “big man come save me,” which comes from their paternal great-great-grandfather, who stood seven feet tall and was the village moderator in the Nigerian village in which he lived.

Born to parents Mustapha and Bolatito, the 6’6″ (1.98 m) Biamila lives up to his name as a big man, which helped him excel at basketball until making the move to football during his senior year of high school in Los Angeles, California.

But football and Ninja Warriors are not the only thing dear to him. His broadcasting work, along with other speaking engagements, provides the platform for him to assist children through the Asomugha Foundation, which emphasizes education as the means for power and growth in disadvantaged youth. He also serves on the foundation’s board of members, under the direction of Nnamdi Asomugha, a former defensive back in the NFL, playing eleven seasons before retiring as an Oakland Raider.

Outside of his work with the Asomugha Foundation, Gbaja-Biamila’s passion is speaking about financial literacy. He has spent many hours working with impoverished youth in San Diego, speaking to them about the value of investing and understanding the financial system, as well as helping with reading and math programs. I am reminded of the quote: To whom much has been given, much shall be required. Gbaja-Biamila certainly knows how to give back. I guess when your very name identifies as you as a big man who comes to save people, you have to follow suit.

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15 Responses to Akbar Gbaja-Biamila: Big Man, Come Save Me

  1. What a great name. What a great story. And what a great quote, “To whom much has been given, much shall be required.”

  2. kerbey says:

    Reblogged this on I Don't Get It and commented:

    You are cordially invited to visit the Blog of Funny Names today for my post on…well, I can’t even spell it.

  3. Benson says:

    What that man is doing for those kids is brilliant and much needed. You don’t need to touch “theory”. Just teach them about taxes, contracts and interest. I wouldn’t even try to pronounce his name. My mouth would probably fall off.

  4. ksbeth says:

    big man, big name, big heart )

  5. Dave says:

    Great timing for this post too, as a pocket-sized* gymnast just became the first woman ever to complete the American Ninja Warrior course!


    *That’s Amb’s favorite description of her size.

  6. wdydfae says:

    Great post, Kerbey!

  7. Liz says:

    Very cool and what a name. He is a beautiful person and am guessing his biceps are also beautiful. And again, nice job with the research. Does this mean I have to look facts and stuff up on the people I write about here now?

    • kerbey says:

      Oh, gosh, no. When I watched “Last Comic Standing” last night, they made stuff up as they went along, being tour guides for Universal Studios. And the one who improved the best won! So just improvise.

      • Liz says:

        So you made your “facts” up?

        • kerbey says:

          No, I research for weeks at a time because I am a moral, ethical person who provides truth and hopefully high-res pictures. I’m just giving you permission to improv. But now that I think about it, perhaps you should also spend hours in research. Yes, that is the best resolution here.

  8. Pingback: Fit Females, Fancy Fros, and Funny Names In The News #89 | The Blog of Funny Names

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