Clemson’s five-star freshman quarterback might be college football’s next big thing, so pretty soon, everyone will know how to say D.J. Uiagalelei’s name.
It happened with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the NBA — over time, more people nailed the pronunciation of his last name. And so it will be with Uiagalelei, who for now is a replacement for Trevor Lawrence but for 2021 and 2022 will be the Tigers’ heir to Lawrence. If you prefer nicknames, Uiagalelei has some, too, but it’s worth learning the star freshman’s full name. His vowels could come in handy on Wheel of Fortune, after all.
Here’s a guide on how to pronounce Uiagalelei’s name, along with the origins of his name and his nicknames.
How do you pronounce D.J. Uiagalelei?
Uiagalelei looks intimidating at first, but it almost sounds exactly how it looks. The trickiest part is an ‘n’ sound in the middle of it despite no ‘n’ in the name itself.
The official pronunciation is: oo-ee-ANH-gah-leh-lay.
At a press conference before Clemson played Notre Dame, Uiagalelei spoke about the different pronunciations he’s heard in his life.
“I’ve heard a lot (of people butchering the last name), probably, I mean,” Uiagalelei told media Monday. “But for me, I think like Wiggly Lee (was the worst). I’ve heard Wiggly Lee one time, I forgot who said something like that. Like Wiggly Lee. I never heard that type of pronunciation.”
What is D.J. Uiagalelei’s full name?
Uiagalelei’s full name is David John Uiagalelei.
At least in part, Uiagalelei likely goes by D.J. because his father’s name is also Dave (he goes by David).
D.J. Uiagalelei’s nicknames
A reporter recently asked Uiagalelei if he’d be fine being called the “Throwin’ Samoan,” and Uiagalelei said “You guys can call me whatever you want.”
However, Uiagalelei did have a high school nickname he was especially proud of: Big Cinco. That came from Uiagalelei wearing No. 5, and at 6-4, 250 pounds, he’s certainly a big guy.
“I started like putting a hashtag on it on my Instagram, like Big Cinco, and then eventually I got it made, got it made into a chain, I got a pendant and I like wearing chains,” Uiagalelei told reporters on Nov. 2.
Where is D.J. Uiagalelei from?
Uiagalelei grew up in Bellflower, California, where he attended St. John Bosco High School.
Uiagalelei’s parents are first-generation Americans. They are from the Samoan Islands, and they first moved to Hawaii. Then in 1985, they moved to California.
In eighth grade, Uiagalelei played for a 7-on-7 team called Team Aiga. Aiga means “family” in Samoan.