From the time Vaiangina (Vai) Sikahema began drawing the attention of college recruiters as an Arizona, USA, high school football star, he has lived in the public eye.
He excelled at football at Brigham Young University, competing on the Cougars’ 1984 national championship team. He played professionally for several National Football League teams and was twice named to the Pro Bowl before transitioning to a successful career as a news broadcaster.
But “football player” or “TV anchorman” was not who the genial 58-year-old was.
“I never relied on being a professional athlete or a broadcaster as my identity,” said Elder Sikahema, who was sustained as a General Authority Seventy on April 3, 2021. “I identify first as a son of God and as a Latter-day Saint.”
He is also a husband, father, and priesthood holder—all eternal identities.
Born on August 29, 1962, in Nuku‘alofa, Tonga, to Sione and Ruby Sikahema, Elder Sikahema was raised in a household defined by family and faith. His ancestors were among the first in Tonga to join the Church.
Growing up in Mesa, Arizona, he set aside preparations to become a professional boxer when he discovered his football talents. When he accepted a scholarship to play at BYU, he had not planned to serve a full-time mission.
“But I found myself around young men who were deeply committed to living the gospel, and I wanted to be more like them,” Elder Sikahema said.
In 1982 he stepped away from college football to serve in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission. Returning to BYU after his mission, he met Hawaii native Keala Heder. The two married in the Mesa Arizona Temple in 1984. The Sikahemas are the parents of four children.
Before becoming a General Authority, Elder Sikahema served as a ward Young Men president, bishop, regional director of public affairs, mission presidency counselor, stake president, and Area Seventy.