For Tua Tagovailoa, wearing a lei is no mere accessory—the decorative accent bears great significance to his culture. “It can represent peace, love, honor, or friendship,” shares the 23-year-old Miami Dolphins quarterback. Leis have often been given to Tagovailoa by his parents after a big win or as a sign of support throughout his football career. Now, he’s partnering with Aventura-based South Florals to launch TUA Leis, with proceeds benefiting his namesake Tua Foundation.
Established in February, the foundation’s mission is to make a meaningful impact in support of those in need, especially kids. “Helping others is a tenet of my faith and who I am,” he says. The foundation focuses on charitable endeavors in South Florida, Alabama, and Hawaii—the areas Tagovailoa says have “greatly impacted” his life. “These communities have helped to mold me, and I want to give back and help kids who may just need an opportunity,” he says. So far, three grants of $16,667 were awarded to the Police Athletic League of North Miami; Big Oak Ranch in Springville, Alabama; and the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame in Honolulu. He also established a $300,000 scholarship endowment to benefit his high school in Honolulu. Four scholarships will be awarded to students from Hawaii over the next four years, each named in honor of his grandparents.
Those interested in purchasing a lei can choose between options made with fresh florals or silk flowers in orange and aqua (resembling the Dolphins’ team colors); leis are available in all of the South Florals retail locations and online. “It means a lot to me to bring my Polynesian culture wherever I go, and luaus and leis play a big part in that,” says Tagovailoa. “It is our hope that TUA Leis will help in our charitable mission to support kids for years to come.”