New Jersey native Mohamed Sanu to play in Super Bowl LI
A New Jersey native will take to the football field Sunday to play in Super Bowl LI.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu's high school jersey is retired in South Brunswick and he became a record-setting receiver at Rutgers University. He left Rutgers a year early to play for the NFL.
His mother, a West Africa native, says she never dreamed her son would one day be playing in the Super Bowl.
Aminata Koroma says that she originally did not want her son to play the sport.
"I remember the first day he came to me and told me, 'Mommy, I wanna play football.' I say, 'No, you're not gonna play football.'"
Sanu says that he has been trying to make a name for himself in the NFL.
"Obviously my name is Mohamed. A lot of people know I'm Muslim but I'm here because of my football talents, not because I'm Muslim," he says.
Sanu politely deflects questions about President Donald Trump's immigration restriction on seven Muslim-majority countries when asked by reporters.
He was born in New Jersey and his mother became a U.S. citizen after coming to the country on a visa. She has worked in nursing homes in the U.S. and ran a beauty school in her home country of Sierra Leon.
"I want them to know the American dream," Koroma says. "You have to work hard for whatever you've got."
Sanu lived with his older sister and her husband when he was a teenager.
"Mohamed has a special place in my heart," says Haja Jabhbie. "I'm so happy and proud of Mohamed and nobody deserves this more than him."
The last time Sanu was back home in New Jersey, he ran a free football camp for kids.