Childhood & Early Life
Osi Umenyiora was born Ositadimma Umenyiora, on November 16, 1981, in Golders Green, London, to John Umenyiora and Chinelo Chukwueke. He was one of the six children in the family. His parents had emigrated from Nigeria.
Osi originally hails from the Igbo ethnic group, and his parents are from the town Ogbunike in the state of Anambra in Nigeria. His father was a highly influential businessman with a strong presence in Nigerian politics. He was one of the richest men from their native town and later moved with his family to London.
However, the family had to move back to their hometown in Nigeria when Osi was 7 years old. He resumed his education there. However, his father later realized that Osi was a bright kid and that he could have better opportunities in the West. Osi’s older sister was already studying in Alabama in the United States of America, and Osi moved in with her when he was 14 years of age.
Before he landed in Auburn, Alabama, he was totally unaware of the concept of American football. He joined the ‘Auburn High School’ and resumed his studies. He was an athletic kid and had a great built. In his second year of high school, the school football coach noticed him and asked him whether he would like to play football.
Osi agreed, and he soon learned the rules of American football from scratch. However, he got addicted to it quickly and became a good player. He played through the last 2 years of high school, without any special record to his name. However, by then, he was sure that he wanted to make a career in American football.
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College & Professional Career
When he had started playing football, he was an above-average player. No major universities offered him a scholarship. He was eventually offered an athletic scholarship by the ‘Troy University.’ Osi joined their team, the ‘Troy State Trojans.’
Throughout his high-school years, he played as a nose guard. However, his college coach thought that he was best suited for the defensive end position. This turned out to be a great decision, as Osi’s game began improving.
By the end of his final year in college, he became one of the best players on the team. In the 2002 season, he finished with 15 sacks, which happens to be the second-best score in the ‘NCAA Division I.’ Later, in 2014, he was inducted into the ‘Troy University Sports Hall of Fame.’
Despite his performances gradually improving, he found it difficult to be a player in demand during the ‘NFL Draft’ of 2003. He was not invited to the ‘NFL Draft Combine.’ However, he was picked up by the ‘New York Giants’ in the second round of the ‘NFL Draft.’
During his first year with the ‘Giants,’ he earned a good reputation as a premier pass rusher. His amazing performance made him an ‘All-Pro.’ During his first year, he finished with 70 tackles and 14.5 sacks. With that, he was the second-best ‘NFL’ player after Derrick Burgess of the ‘Oakland Raiders.’
The team management was confused about him in the beginning, but after observing his performance in the first year, the ‘Giants’ offered him a 6-year contract.
In a 2007 game against the ‘Philadelphia Eagles,’ Osi recorded 6 sacks, setting a franchise record. This turned out to be the best season for Osi, as his team ended up with 53 sacks, of which 13 were contributed by him. The same season, he also scored his career’s first touchdown when he ran for 75 yards to score in a game against the ‘San Francisco 49ers.’
In the 2009 season, he scored one more touchdown, which also turned out to be his last. In the 2010 season, too, his good form continued. In October 2010, he was named the ‘NFL Defensive Player of the Month.’
He faced a little trouble with his team management toward the beginning of the 2011 season. He did not show up for the training camp, saying that he was promised that his contract was going to be renegotiated, but it was not.
In March 2013, he signed with the ‘Atlanta Falcons’ and delivered an average performance. He announced his retirement from American football in August 2015. He signed a one-day deal with the ‘Giants’ to retire as a ‘Giants’ player.
In 2015, he started working as a sports presenter for ‘BBC Sport’ in England. He covered the ‘NFL International Series’ matches from London, along with the ‘Super Bowl.’
His skills as a sports presenter earned him two ‘Royal Television Society Awards,’ one each in 2017 and 2019.
The ‘Sports Journalist Association’ awarded him the ‘British Sports Pundit of the Year’ award in 2018.