Puka Nacua, a talented wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, draws inspiration from his father, Lionel Nacua, in his journey to football success.
In the locker room of the Los Angeles Rams, where stars like Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford walk among young talents, Puka Nacua finds his own wellspring of inspiration. While these veteran players are undoubtedly influential figures, it’s his father who ignited the flame of his football dreams.
Who is Lionel Nacua?
Puka Nacua is Lionel Nacua’s son and the fifth of Lionel and Penina’s six children. Beyond his role as a father, Lionel was instrumental in guiding his son’s destiny in football from an early age.
Lionel Nacua, according to the Deseret News, urged a young Puka to analyze football film instead of watching SpongeBob SquarePants. He would watch college football games with his father and elder brothers, instilling in Puka a strong passion for the sport.
Lionel Nacua held several roles in his boys’ lives, from father figure to coach. The Nacua family were also big fans of Brigham Young University (BYU) football, with Lionel anticipating that his sons would one day play for the Cougars.
Lionel Nacua’s life was tragically cut short in May 2012, at the age of 45, due to diabetic complications. Nonetheless, his sons carried on his legacy of influence. Kai and Isaiah both committed to play football for BYU when their father died.
Puka Nacua’s own college football journey took an unexpected turn. He meant to attend the University of Southern California (USC), but signed a national letter of intent to play for the University of Washington. His ties to his father’s alma mater remained strong, and in 2021, he returned to BYU, where he established himself as a prospective NFL wide receiver.
Nacua succeeded at BYU, leading the team in receiving yards both seasons (2019 and 2020). His touchdown celebration, a tribute to his brothers and late father, had him pointing to the sky, a constant reminder of his family’s lasting effect on his football path.