The Uga family is well known in the city for its athletics accomplishments at Everett High School.
John Uga, 23, who has a Super Bowl ring as a defensive back on the EHS football team and served as captain of the Crimson Tide baseball team, is taking that tradition of excellence to an entirely new level.
Uga, 23, will be competing on the “American Ninja Warrior” show Monday (Aug. 9) on NBC-TV. Last season American Ninja Warrior (ANW) drew 35 million viewers.
As the ANW website proclaims, the show is “where some of the most elite athletes in the country compete on the world’s most difficult obstacles courses.”
Uga earned his spot on the popular show by emerging as one of the highest finishers at a qualifying round of competition in Tacoma, Washington. On Monday’s show, Uga will be competing in the semifinals for the right to advance to the National Finals in Las Vegas. The top prize for the winner is a cool $1 million.
“This competition truly tests every single part of you – your athletic ability, balance, strength, power, and mental toughness,” said Uga.
Always an athlete, and a Super Bowl champion
The son of John Uga Sr. and Karen Uga, John Jr. always had a love of sports and being active, so the American Ninja Warrior show is a perfect fit for his competitive instincts and set of multiple athletic skills.
“Since I was born, I’ve been climbing things,” said John. “My mother told me that she had to double-up the railings on the crib when I was baby.”
John Jr. began playing Pop Warner football when he was 5 years old. He excelled for the Everett contingent through the ‘A’ Division, winning several championships. “I was a running back in those years,” recalled John. “Playing Pop Warner football was a lot of fun.”
As a freshman at Everett High, he moved on to the high-powered Crimson Tide football program, led by former head coach John DiBiaso. He earned a ring as a Division 1 Super Bowl state champion.
“I started playing on special teams for the varsity, and in my junior and senior years I was a starting strong safety and played alongside Lukas Denis in the defensive backfield – Lukas was a good friend of mine,” said John. “I got to play in Gillette Stadium twice.”
He was a three-year starting outfielder for the Everett High baseball team and became a captain in his senior year.
John’s older sister, Brianna Uga, was a superb three-sport (softball, field hockey, and ice hockey) athlete at Everett High School, graduating in 2012. Brianna went on to play softball at Fitchburg State. His sister, Samantha Uga, was an All-Star softball player and a scholar-athlete. Samantha is pursuing a career as a nurse. A younger sister, Alexa, will begin her Everett High School athletic career in September.
Realizing his dream on American Ninja Warrior
John Uga, who stands 5-feet-11, said he began watching American Ninja Warrior sin his senior year in high school. He started to train, with the specific dream of being a competitor on the nationally televised show.
“Instead of conventional sports, I wanted to try something new and this endeavor kind of took off for me,” said John. “I think all of my sports worked together to prepare me for the show. Mentally, you have to overcome the obstacles in front of you.”
John thanked his parents and sisters for their support and encouragement. “They’ve always been there watching my games and rooting for my teams.”
He also said his football coach, John DiBiaso and baseball coaches, Joe Lento Sr. and Joe Lento Jr., also helped his growth as an athlete and a person. “They pushed me to be the best athlete I could be,” said John, who attended UNH where he studied Civil Engineering.
Everett residents will not only see John Uga Jr. competing on national television, but his family will appear on the show as well.
“We’re all very excited,” said John’s grandmother, Nancy Murphy. “We’ll all be watching John on the show and rooting for him.”