the saints scott fujita: not asian descent but raised up asian american

“The leading tackler on the resurgent Saints defense, Fujita was given up by his birth mother when he was six weeks old and adopted by Helen and Rod Fujita of Oxnard, Calif. Helen is white. Rod, now a retired school teacher and coach, is a third-generation Japanese-American who was born inside a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during the post-Pearl Harbor paranoia of World War II.Raised half-Japanese, Scott always celebrated traditional Shogatsu (Japanese New Year), and on May 5 Rod would raise a flag in the shape of a koi (ornamental carp) on a bamboo pole in his backyard in honor of the Japanese national holiday of Kodomo-no-hi (Children’s Day). The most pleasantly shocking part of the Fujitas raising a green-eyed, blonde-haired chubby-cheeked boy as Japanese was that in Ventura County, Calif. no one seemed to give it a second thought. “American, Japanese, to me he’s always just been my son,” says Rod.”

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“Scott begins to talk about the strongest person he’s ever known it is clear he is speaking more about inner strength. And, for him, no one personifies that trait quite like his regal grandma, Lillie Fujita.

It was 1941, a few days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when Lillie was crossing the street in Berkeley and another female student ran up to her, screaming in her face: “You little Jap, why don’t you go back home!” Lillie is a tiny, demure woman. At Scott’s wedding reception he got down on his knees to dance with his grandma only to discover he was still too tall. But that day in 1941 she roared back: “I’m an American too … and a better one than you are!”

Growing up, Scott was deeply affected by his family’s internment and it still angers him that the subject was largely ignored by his teachers. To counter that he studied and wrote on the subject frequently when he was at Cal. “I’m so far removed from the topic, but when I think about it, it makes me bitter and angry,” he says. “The thing is, I’ve never heard a single hint of negativity in my grandmother’s voice. Part of the culture is to make the best of everything, to not feel sorry for yourself and to move on — I’m honored to have been able to absorb that into my own life.”

Fujita has the letters, government documents and black-and-white photos from his Japanese internment research on his computer desktop at home. There are posters informing all citizens of Japanese descent that they have six days to register with the government and report for evacuation.

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Scott would sit in the backseat of Nagao’s car, gazing at the California coast while listening to tales of great samurai warriors, Japanese art and history, and majestic places like Mount Fuji. “When you’ve never met a single blood relative in your life,” Scott says, “the idea of ethnicity and blood relations takes on a different meaning. I found a very beautiful and interesting culture filled with dignity, respect and honor, and it became mine.”

Fujita Named Saints Man of the Year

by Nick Karl,
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 – 12:45 PM

Among the most prestigious awards in the NFL, linebacker Scott Fujita has been named the 2009 New Orleans Saints “Man of the Year” for his dedication to community service, his charitable efforts and his performance on the football field. The honor is voted on annually by members of the media, Saints front office staff and local non-profit and business executives.

“There were a number of players we considered for this award because of the impact they have made on our community, but Scott’s contributions this year and throughout his time in New Orleans are particularly noteworthy,” said Owner/Executive Vice President Rita Benson LeBlanc. “We should all be proud of Scott’s dedication – not only the members of the Saints’ organization, but the residents of our region – for his efforts to make where we live a better place.”

Fujita has been committed to working in the community since arriving in New Orleans in 2006, and the eighth-year veteran has adopted two public campaigns that hold special meaning to him – breast cancer awareness and adoption. His mother, Helen, is a breast cancer survivor who has twice defeated the disease. He teamed with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to tape a public service announcement for their “Race For The Cure” event, and with it held on a game day, his wife, Jaclyn, and two daughters participated in his absence.

Fujita, who was adopted as an infant, teamed with the Adoption Services of Catholic Charities of New Orleans to tape another public service announcement to build support and awareness for the cause. It has aired throughout November, which is National Adoption Awareness Month.

Angel’s Place, a facility in New Orleans which provides a safe and nurturing environment for children with life-threatening illnesses, is another of Fujita’s priorities. He and his family visited at Christmas Eve last year, bringing a bag of gifts for the children while also making a monetary donation. He was recently honored at their “Under Angels Wings” fundraiser.

Fujita also chaired the Crimestoppers of New Orleans Carnivale fundraiser, helping raise funds for the non-profit organization, which provides citizens with the means to assist law enforcement to apprehend criminals and make the city a safer place to live.

“Scott Fujita is a player I’ve known and had the pleasure to coach for a number of years now and he has always been a great influence to his teammates, both on the field and in the locker room,” Saints Head Coach Sean Payton said. “That influence carries over into our community where his hard work is just as evident away from the field as it is between the lines on Sundays.”

The first defensive free agent to join the team after Payton arrived in New Orleans, Fujita posted a team-high 342 tackles over the next three seasons, along with 6.5 sacks and four interceptions. He is one of only four linebackers in club history to record three straight seasons with 100 more tackles.

The NFL Man of the Year award has been in existence since 1970 and honors NFL players who demonstrate balance in their lives between civic and professional responsibilities. The finalist from each team receives a $1,000 contribution toward a charity of his choice, and the overall winner will receive $25,000 to donate to his selected charity.

The 2009 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year winner will be announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell’s prior to Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida.

New Orleans Saints – Fujita Named Saints Man of the Year

Scott Fujita

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Scott Fujita

Fujita in November 2007
No. 55     New Orleans Saints
Personal information
Date of birth: April 28, 1979 (1979-04-28) (age 30)
Place of birth: Ventura, California
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) Weight: 250 lb (113 kg)
Career information
College: California
NFL Draft: 2002 / Round: 5 / Pick: 143
Debuted in 2002 for the Kansas City Chiefs
Career history
As player:

Career highlights and awards
  • Honorable mention All-Pac-10 (2000-2001)
  • Academic All-Pac-10 (2001)
  • NFC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 3, 2006)
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2009
Tackles 515
Sacks 19.0
Interceptions 5
Stats at

Scott Anthony Fujita (pronounced /fuːˈdʒiːtə/;[1] born April 28, 1979 in Ventura, California) is an American football linebacker for the National Football League‘s New Orleans Saints. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, earning a BA in political science in 2001 and an MA in education in 2002.




[edit] Background

Although Fujita’s last name is Japanese, he is Caucasian, and he is the adopted son of Rodney Fujita, who is Japanese-American, and his wife Helen, who is Caucasian.[2] His father was one of the Japanese-Americans interned during World War II; his father’s family was held at the Gila River War Relocation Center.[3]

Fujita grew up in a traditional Japanese household, celebrating Japanese festivals and holidays, and eating with chopsticks. His grandparents have several bonsai trees on their property. Because of his upbringing, he considers himself to be culturally Japanese.

He attended Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, California.

[edit] Professional career

Fujita was drafted in the 5th round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He played 3 seasons with them before signing with the Dallas Cowboys for the 2005 season. On March 13, 2006, Fujita signed with the Saints, reuniting with his former position coach as well as offensive coordinator (now head coach Sean Payton). In 2006, as part of a Monday Night Football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Saints teammate Mike McKenzie introduced Fujita as the “Asian Assassin.” Fujita has also been known, upon making a big tackle or sack, to cover his right fist with his left palm and bow—a gesture inspired by the yin-yang symbol. Fujita was named defensive captain of the 2007 Saints. In Week 1 of the 2008 season, Fujita had caught a crucial game-winning interception in the very end against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

[edit] Personal life

Fujita is married with two children, and is a supporter of gay rights.[4]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^2004 Kansas City Chiefs Rosters and Depth Chart“. p. 6.
  2. ^ Dallas Morning News, 2005-12-17
  3. ^ ESPN, 2006-11-10
  4. ^ Huffington Post interview

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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One comment on “the saints scott fujita: not asian descent but raised up asian american

  1. Pingback: Scott Fujita:Saints Tackler Not Asian Descent But Raised Asian American | My Blog

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This entry was posted on January 26, 2010 by in Uncategorized and tagged .
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