Ellison in November 2007
|Date of birth:||August 15, 1960|
|Place of birth:||Christchurch, New Zealand|
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||220 lb (100 kg)|
|High school:||Tucson (AZ) Amphitheater|
|NFL Draft:||1983 / Round: 5 / Pick: 117|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Riki Morgan Ellison (born August 15, 1960) is a former U.S. college and professional linebacker, who played ten seasons in the National Football League (NFL), and went by the name Riki Gray while in college at USC as an All-Pac-10 player in 1982. He is the first New Zealander to play in the NFL.
Ellison was part of a USC Trojans team that went to two Rose Bowls and won a national championship. He graduated USC with a degree in International Relations with a graduate emphasis on Defense and Strategic Studies.
The NFL San Francisco 49ers chose him with their fifth-round pick in the 1983 NFL Draft becoming the first ever New Zealander and Maori to play in Professional Football. Jerry Attaway, his conditioning coach at USC and (teammate) Ronnie Lott had convinced Bill Walsh to select him in the draft.
Ellison won three Super Bowls during his seven years with the 49ers. He was drafted alongside a pair of future Pro Bowlers, running back Roger Craig and center/guard Jesse Sapolu. In his final season with the 49ers in 1989, he broke his right arm in the final preseason game and was placed on the injured reserve list for the season. He played his final three seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders.
In 2017, Ellison was inducted into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance
Youth Impact Program
In 2005, Ellison founded the Youth Impact Program for disadvantaged and at-risk adolescent boys in US inner cities. It partners with universities, the U.S. Marine Corps, local NFL team, and public school teachers. The U.S. Marine Corps also participates in YIP by providing students with leadership and character development skills training and mentoring.
Ellison is of Māori descent. At eight, Ellison moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with his father, Dan, who went on to become an economic advisor to the United Nations. Shortly thereafter, Ellison's parents divorced and he relocated with his mother to Los Angeles, where she remarried Dennis Gray. Ellison went to high school in Tucson, AZ.
The Ellison family comes from a strong sporting background, he is related to professional rugby players Tamati Ellison and Jacob Ellison who both played in Super Rugby, Jacob is now playing in Japan for Fukuoka Sanix Blues, while Tamati is with the Melbourne Rebels. Thomas Ellison, his great-uncle, played for the first New Zealand rugby team to play in Great Britain in 1888 and 1889, and captained the first New Zealand team to play in Australia in 1893.
In 1992, Ellison relocated his family to New Zealand. In 1995, he attempted to bring an American college football bowl game to Auckland, but the proposed "Haka Bowl" did not go ahead.
- Farmer, Sam (October 8, 2000). "EX-49ERS RECALL MOVE TO RAIDERS LOOKING BACK ON CHANGING LOYALTIES". The San Jose Mercury News. p. 1D.
Ellison 's views have softened on the 49ers, with whom he played from 1983 to '89 and earned three Super Bowl rings.
- Dufrense, Chris (September 20, 1990). "He's Glad to Be an Ex-49er". Archived from the original on May 25, 2012.
- "Board of Directors". Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- "Youth Impact Program". Retrieved 8 Feb 2017.
- Anderson, Atholl (30 October 2012). "Ellison, Thomas Rangiwahia". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara —the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
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