You dealt with a lot of transition early in your life. You were born in American Samoa and then moved to Washington state as a child. Do you remember that shift?
Yeah, I remember learning how to speak English and just learning how the mainland is so much different than living on a little, tiny island. And I remember how much colder it was. The culture was probably the biggest thing; not having any other Samoan people around and not being able to explain to other people where it was.
A few years later, your father passed away. How old were you then, and what are your fondest memories of him?
That's when I was 12. My fondest memories are that he just made it to all my baseball or basketball games; everything I did. He worked a lot of overtime to make sure he could come. That was really cool. He was a really cool dad. I always talked about how my grandpa was really into his job and how he never came to any of his (events). So he was, really, the total opposite.
I believe he was a painter of some kind, and he painted something at the University of Washington (where Daniel later attended). What's the story behind that?
Yes. He helped paint Husky Stadium when we first moved there. But mostly, he painted bridges. He was crazy. He used to have to sandblast all the paint off the bridges, and you're hanging hundreds of feet in the air. Sometimes, he'd go to work and he'd be the one that would discover dead bodies (below). It's a nut's job.
Is it true that you changed your last name? And why?
I did. I used to just be Nesheim. But my mom wanted people to know I'm Samoan. So she added her (maiden) name, too, when I started playing high school football.
How many of your teammates know how to pronounce your name? (It's tuh-OH-NESS-ime.)
You later moved back to Samoa, and then you went to high school in Hawaii. So where do you consider home?
Right now, Hawaii. When I was in high school, it was hard to decide where home was. Boarding school kind of becomes your home.
How did all these experiences shape you?
I think it made me independent. I probably don't call home as much as I should. I'm pretty on my own, and I've been like that since I was in eighth grade. I always did my own laundry and took care of myself. Some people probably don't prefer that, but I kind of like it that way. And in the NFL, where people get cut all the time, maybe that's good.
These are my weekly questions: What's playing most on your iPod right now?
(Laughs) It's a band called Panty Raid. They do dubstep, electronic music. Also (singer) Calvin Harris.
What website do you visit the most?
I listen to this dance music station back in Seattle, and the only way I can listen down here is to stream the website online. So I'm always doing that.
Finally, what reality show do you watch most regularly?
Actually, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
You do not watch that.
Yeah, I do. It's kind of amazing how famous they've all gotten from that show.
I read that you majored in visual arts in college. Does art appeal to you?
Oh, yeah. I took a lot of sculpture classes. Nowadays, I draw a lot. I wouldn't say I'm a sculptor. I did like that we learned how to weld. I hear that's a good way to make money. Maybe I'll become a welder.
You competed in track and field (in the shot put) at Washington in addition to football. Are there any parallels?
Not at all. In shot put, it's just you and the ring. In football, so many things have to go right for a team to win. I think I just did it to kill time. We got done with our football (offseason work) by 9 o'clock in the morning. So I had a lot of time to kill.
Well, you must have been pretty good to compete in the Pac-10 conference, right?
I mean, technically, I competed. But I wouldn't say I was a big name in the shot put world. Sometimes, I wish I would've just said no to (competing) in the Pac-10 championships. But that free trip to California, I guess I just couldn't resist.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected]