Haltom, TCU product Vaitai plays for Eagles in Super Bowl LII

Whether it's on the field, or on the dance floor at his wedding, Halapoulivaati Vaitai can move.

The big offensive tackle from Haltom has also always been bigger than everyone.

"The very first day we met him, this dad comes in with these huge kids," Haltom assistant football coach Joe Ward says. "And one of my assistant coaches goes 'our 8th grade team is gonna be real good this year'. And [Vaitai's father] goes, 'oh no, they're in 6th grade.'"

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And when you're that big -- 6'6, 320 lbs -- it's easy for Vaitai's mother Shirley to just have this approach, when she sees her son get hit.

"Come on, hit him back."

Vaati Vaitai, or 'Big V' to most of his friends, went from Haltom to TCU, before landing with the Eagles, where he'll play in Super Bowl LII on Sunday.

But TCU wasn't his first pick.

"He had verbally agreed to go to Texas Tech," Shirley Vaitai explains. "One week before signing his letter of intent, I found a lump, and I had to go do a biopsy."

In a blink, Vaitai decided he wasn't to college going four hours away.

"He decommitted from Texas Tech, called up coach Patterson..."

And TCU was home for the next four years.

"For him to change his mind about going to a far away school, so he could stay close to home," Shirley says, "I'm forever grateful for that."

Fortunately, the lump turned out to be benign. And since then, Vaitai has turned into a very solid pro, taking over in the Eagles starting lineup in each of the last two years, due to suspensions and injuries to other players.

"I tell him things happen for a reason, and it's always going to be the right time," his mother says. "With all the things that have been going on, and throwing him into those positions -- it was his time."

And now, it's his time to start for the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

"To see this skinny, 6-foot kid grow into this 6-foot-7 monster of a man, who still has a huge heart," Ward says, "but can mix it up with the big boys -- it makes me so proud."