Akbar Gbaja-Biamila

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Akbar Gbajabiamila
No. 98, 94, 93
Position:Defensive end / Linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1979-05-06) May 6, 1979 (age 40)
Los Angeles, California
Height:6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Weight:263 lb (119 kg)
Career information
High school:Crenshaw
(Los Angeles, California)
College:San Diego State
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com
Akbar Gbajabiamila
Born (1979-05-06) May 6, 1979 (age 40)
Los Angeles, California
OccupationSports commentator, TV personality, author, former linebacker
Notable worksBoard Member for the Asomugha Foundation, Board Member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Akbar Oluwakemi-Idowu Gbajabiamila (born May 6, 1979),[1] is a former professional American football player of the National Football League (NFL), who currently is the co-host for American Ninja Warrior, works as a sports analyst for the NFL Network, and author.

The Los Angeles native grew up in the Crenshaw district with his mother and father, both of whom were born and raised in Nigeria, and his 6 siblings. Among his siblings is Green Bay Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.

Gbajabiamila was signed by the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2003. Before beginning his professional career, he played college football at San Diego State University. Gbajabiamila also played for the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins.

Gbajabiamila currently serves as a board member for the Asomugha Foundation, an organization aimed at creating better educational opportunities for impoverished communities. Akbar also serves on the Board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which raises millions of dollars for Parkinson’s research.

Gbajabiamila currently co-hosts American Ninja Warrior alongside Matt Iseman and Zuri Hall. American Ninja Warrior is an American sports entertainment competition, which features hundreds of competitors attempting to complete series of obstacle courses of increasing difficulty in various cities across the United States, in hopes of becoming the season's "American Ninja Warrior." In addition to this, he also hosts the Universal Kids spin off show, American Ninja Warrior Junior as well as NFL Networks’ highest rated show, NFL Fantasy Live.

Gbajabiamila‘s first book, Everyone Can Be a Ninja, was released on May 7, 2019 (ISBN 978-1982109752).

Early life[edit]

Gbajabiamila was born in Los Angeles, California.

At Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles, he was a star basketball player on teams which were part of the Willie West Jr. coaching era. He and his teammates won back-to-back City and State Championships in 1996 and 1997. Gbajabiamila moved to play football during his senior year. He was an all-league and all-conference choice. He was also named team’s defensive lineman of the year, compiling 11 sacks and 74 tackles in his senior campaign.

College career[edit]

Gbajabiamila accepted a football scholarship at San Diego State University, where he was all-Mountain West Conference in his senior year of 2002. He joined the group Athletes For Education, one of a handful of collegiate players that were part of the outreach group, and worked with founder Steve Haynes and a group of San Diego-area professional players to go into communities and work with young people on life skills. Akbar’s passion was speaking about financial literacy, and he spent hours working with youth in San Diego about the value of investing and understanding how the financial system worked. He also worked on reading and math programs with impoverished youth, giving him insight as a young athlete into the value of community assistance.

Professional career[edit]

Oakland Raiders[edit]

Gbajabiamila went undrafted in the 2003 NFL Draft and later signed with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent. He made the team out of training camp and played in 13 of the team's 16 regular season games, while being inactive for three. He recorded seven tackles (four solo) on the season, with his first and only sack of the season coming against Daunte Culpepper, then with the Minnesota Vikings.

In 2004, Gbaja-Biamila split time between defensive end and linebacker, occasionally filling in for players such as Travian Smith and Tyler Brayton. He appeared in 14 games for the Raiders during the regular season and was inactive for two games. He accumulated a career-high 14 tackles (11 solo) and added a sack on the year. That sack came against Brad Johnson and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while he recorded a season-high three tackles in games against the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars. Gbajabiamila also recovered a blocked punt against the Carolina Panthers which led to a Raiders touchdown.

Battling injuries during the 2005 training camp, Gbajabiamila was released by the Raiders on September 3. He had a workout with the Green Bay Packers two days later, but he was not signed and spent the season out of football. In 2008 re-signed with the Raiders and was released to retire as a Raider.

San Diego Chargers[edit]

Gbajabiamila returned to the NFL in 2006 after being signed by the San Diego Chargers on January 12. The fit was a good one for him, who as slightly undersized yet quick defensive end was a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense employed by then-defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and the Chargers.

Miami Dolphins[edit]

On February 6, 2007, it was announced that Gbajabiamila had been signed to a future contract worth $7.4 million with the Miami Dolphins. The move reunited him with new Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron, who was offensive coordinator in San Diego the season before when Gbaja-Biamila was a member of the Chargers. On September 11, 2007, he was released by the Dolphins. He spent the season out of football.


In 2005, Gbajabiamila was selected as one of the NFL’s first athletes into their Broadcast Boot Camp, held in Mount Laurel, N.J., and designed to give 20 players a short and rigorous look into the skills needed to embark on a broadcast or journalism career after their playing careers. He also took advantage of some time between playing stints to volunteer at KSWB, the NBC affiliate in San Diego, and ended up 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 and a half seasons (2006–2008) before getting one last shot in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins

Personal life[edit]

Name meaning[edit]

Akbar’s full name is Akbar Oluwakemi-Idowu Gbajabiamila. Akbar is Arabic and means "greatest." His middle and last names are of the Yoruba language. The middle names, Oluwakemi means "God blessed me" and Idowu means "born after twins." (One of his twin older brothers is Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila who was also a pro football player.) Their last name, Gbaja-Biamila means "big man come save me." This name comes from his paternal great-great-grandfather who was 7 ft (2.1 m) tall and was the village moderator in his Nigerian village.


He is of Nigerian ancestry. Both of his parents were Muslim, until his mother converted to Christianity. While he was raised under a Sunni Muslim household, he converted to Christianity while in college.[2] In 2000, his father, Mustapha, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In 2002, his mother, Bolatito, died in a car crash. While a member of the Chargers in 2006, Akbar routinely drove back-and-forth from San Diego to Los Angeles to spend time with his father. Akbar has four children.

Television career[edit]

With his playing career over, Akbar turned his focus to the broadcast booth in addition to his philanthropic work, serving as an analyst for the Mtn. Network and CBS Sports Network for two years, while also taking voice and acting classes. He also founded Rush The Passer, a year-round athletic, academic and life skills program for youth in Southern California. In 2010 he was approached by reality producer Mark Burnett to be part of a three-man athlete team for his latest project on ABC, Expedition Impossible. That role, and the exposure that came with it, helped further Akbar’s exposure.

In 2009, Gbajabiamila was an analyst for Division I games on CBS College Sports. He was a contestant on the reality adventure game show Expedition Impossible. His team "The Football Players" finished in 4th place on the show.

As of 2012, he has joined the NFL Network as a member of the NFL Fantasy Live cast of hosts. As of 2015, he is a host alongside Matt Iseman for American Ninja Warrior being broadcast on G4, Esquire Network, and NBC.[3] Akbar is also the co-host of Team Ninja Warrior alongside Iseman, a spin-off of American Ninja Warrior that debuted on Esquire Network in 2016, and American Ninja Warrior Junior with Iseman on Universal Kids in 2018. In his commentary, Akbar is known for the "Akbarism",[4] an inspirational and often humorous statement to describe the action.


  1. ^ "Akbar Idowuoluwake Gbajabiamila - California Birth Index". FamilySearch. May 6, 1979. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  2. ^ Hamilton, P. S. (July 21, 2006). "Akbar Gbajabiamila Keeps the Faith". Official Chargers Blog. Archived from the original on September 7, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  3. ^ "American Ninja Warrior Hosts - NBC.com". NBC. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  4. ^ "#Akbarism and #Akbarisms created on Twitter by @ANWakbarism March 2015". twitter.com. Retrieved December 2, 2015.

External links[edit]