Puka Nacua’s Inspiring Journey from Family Coach to NFL Aspirant

Puka Nacua

Puka Nacua’s Inspirational Journey: In the heart of the Los Angeles Rams’ locker room, where football legends like Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford roam, one rising star stands with his own unique source of inspiration – Puka Nacua. While the Rams’ veterans undoubtedly provide guidance and motivation, Nacua’s journey into the world of football began with someone even more special – his father.

Who Is Puka Nacua’s Father? Did He Play Football?

Puka Nacua is not just another football talent; he is the son of Lionel Nacua, a man who played a pivotal role in shaping his football dreams. Born as the fifth of six children to Lionel and Penina Nacua, Puka was fortunate to have his father as one of his first football coaches during his youth. Lionel Nacua’s influence extended beyond the field, as he encouraged his son to break down film and choose football over watching cartoons like SpongeBob SquarePants. They often bonded over college football games on television, a shared passion that strengthened their connection.

A Dual Role: Father and Coach

Lionel Nacua seamlessly transitioned between the roles of a father figure and a coach for Puka and his brothers. Their family’s enthusiasm for Brigham Young University (BYU) football was evident, as Lionel hoped that one day, his sons would proudly wear the Cougar jersey. Tragically, Lionel Nacua passed away unexpectedly in May 2012 at the age of 45 due to complications from diabetes. However, his legacy continued to inspire his sons.

Continuing the Legacy at BYU

Despite the loss of their father, Puka’s brothers, Kai and Isaiah, remained committed to fulfilling their father’s dream by verbally committing to BYU. Puka Nacua’s path, however, took a different turn before he became a revered BYU Cougar.

A College Football Journey

Nacua initially arrived in Seattle with plans of attending the University of Southern California (USC). Instead, fate took another course, leading him to sign his national letter of intent with the University of Washington instead. Once there he quickly made an impactful impression starting three games in 2019 and playing eight overall despite COVID-19 disrupting 2020 season play despite some limitations caused by illness. His resilience never wavered.

Returning to His Roots

In 2021, Puka Nacua made an important choice that fulfilled the dreams of both of his parents. He returned to BYU – his dad’s favourite university – and embarked upon his path to becoming an NFL wide receiver. Leading BYU receiving yards in both seasons proved that Puka was living up to his father’s belief in him and living out the dreams that his dad entrusted him with.

A Touchdown Celebration with a Purpose

At BYU, Nacua had a unique touchdown celebration that spoke volumes about his connection with his family. After scoring, he would point to the sky, a heartfelt tribute to honour his deceased father and carry forward the spirit of his father’s dreams.


Puka Nacua’s journey from his father’s coaching in the backyard to becoming an NFL hopeful is a testament to the power of family, inspiration, and unwavering determination. As he continues to rise in the world of football, he carries with him the indomitable spirit of Lionel Nacua, the father who believed in him and the dreams they shared.

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