Akbar Gbaja Biamila
Akbar Gbaja Biamila is host of NBC's heart-racing obstacle course competition series "American Ninja Warrior."
Gbaja Biamila played linebacker and defensive end in the National Football League for six years and upon his retirement pursued a career in broadcasting. He is currently an analyst for the NFL Network.
As for his heritage, Akbar means "great" in Arabic and Gbaja Biamila stands for "big man come save me," which is derived from his paternal great-grandfather, who stood seven-feet tall and was the moderator in his village.
Gbaja Biamila grew up in Southern California in a large family, one of seven children of Nigerian immigrants. Since retiring from playing, Gbaja Biamila has served as a football analyst for NBC Sports, CBS College Sports, and the Mountain Network and also competed on Mark Burnett's reality series "Expedition Impossible."
His broadcasting work, along with other speaking engagements, provides the platform for him to assist in helping children through the Asomugha Foundation, which he has been involved with since 2003.
Gbaja Biamila has always lived an active lifestyle, striving to combine social consciousness with athletic success. He helped his alma mater, Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, win back-to-back city and state basketball championships in 1996 and 1997 before moving on to the gridiron for his senior season. His defensive prowess earned him all-league and all-conference selections and led to a scholarship to San Diego State University, where he was All-Mountain West in his senior year of 2002.
However, it was off the field where he began making his biggest impact as a professional. Through his affiliation with friend and former teammate Nnamdi Asomugha and the Asomugha Foundation, Gbaja Biamila has worked with young people on college preparation and developing life skills. He has also assisted orphans and widows in need in sub-Saharan Africa.
Outside of his work with the Asomugha Foundation, Gbaja-Biamila's passion was speaking about financial literacy. He spent many hours working with youth in San Diego and speaking to them about the value of investing and understanding the financial system. He also worked on reading and math programs with impoverished youth, giving them insight as a young athlete into the value of community assistance.
As an undrafted free agent in 2003, Gbaja Biamila signed with the Oakland Raiders where he spent two seasons before spending time with both the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins. His older brother, Kabeer, also played in the NFL, most notably with the Green Bay Packers.
Seeing broadcasting as a potential post-retirement career, Gbaja Biamila was selected as one of the NFL's first athletes to participate in their Broadcast Boot Camp in 2005. During his playing career he also volunteered at KNSD, the NBC affiliate in San Diego, and served as the co-host for "Football Night in San Diego" while he awaited his next chance back in the pros. He hosted the show for two years (2006-08) before getting one last look in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins. Gbaja Biamila also completed a certified Entrepreneurial Management program at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2008, with his playing career over, he turned his focus to the broadcast booth and his defensive linemen training company "Rush the Passer."
He currently lives in the Los Angeles area with his family.