Last in a three-part story. Parts one and two looked at Vai Sikahema's unlikely rise from poor Tongan immigrant to BYU and NFL football star who has become a media celebrity in Philadelphia. The final installment looks at Sikahema's commitment to his faith and an inspirational journey back to Tonga.It should have been a thrilling moment. In 1996, just two years after he began his full-time broadcasting career, Vai Sikahema was invited to a meeting and offered a promotion to sports director and sports anchor. This meant he would anchor the sports news at 6 and 11 on weekday nights and cover the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. It was a dream job, but Sikahema's elation was tempered by one problem: He had just been called to serve as a bishop in his Mormon ward.
How could he reward his bosses' generous offer by telling them he had more compelling duties that would preclude him from meeting all the demands of his new job? How could he explain that he needed to be at church on Sundays, instead of traveling with the Eagles? How could he explain that he needed to be at his church on weeknights, as well, instead of the studio?
Sikahema sought inspiration in the temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and found it.
"I could see in my mind's eye exactly what I was supposed to do and what I was supposed to say to my bosses," he says. He immediately wrote these thoughts on the back of a business card, and two days later, he met again with station manager Pat Wallace and news director Steve Doer.
"There's something you should know," he began. "I don't know if this will make a difference in my promotion, but there might be some conflicts in my personal life."