Akbar Gbajabiamila as Host
Akbar Gbajabiamila is host of NBC’s heart-racing obstacle course competition series “American Ninja Warrior” as well as Esquire Networks’ spin-off, “Team Ninja Warrior.”
Gbajabiamila is also a co-host of “NFL Fantasy Live,” NFL Network’s highest-rated show, and he regularly appears on digital and television features for the NFL. His ability to connect with everyone — from viewers to contestants to professional athletes — has made him one of the most relatable television personalities in sports and entertainment.
The Southern California native played five years in the NFL as a linebacker and defensive end with the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins before retiring in 2008. Gbajabiamila played college football for San Diego State University and graduated with a B.A. in communication and new media studies. Gbajabiamila competed a certified Entrepreneurial Program at the Wharton School of Business in 2005.
Gbajabiamila is one of seven children of Nigerian immigrants. His first name means “great” in Arabic and his last name means “big man come save me,” which derives from his paternal great-great-grandfather — an impressive man who stood 7-feet tall and was the moderator in the village in which he lived.
Throughout his NFL career, Gbajabiamila had an interest in broadcasting and in 2005 was selected as one of the NFL’s first athletes to attend their Broadcast Boot Camp, an intense workshop aimed at training athletes for potential careers in broadcasting and journalism. While playing for the Chargers, Gbajabiamila contributed to KSWB, an NBC radio affiliate in San Diego, and and co-hosted “Football Night in San Diego” from 2006-08. He went on to serve as an analyst for the Mountain Network and CBS Sports before joining the NFL Network in 2012.
The multi-hyphenate recently made his feature acting debut in the 2015 short film “The Sac Fly,” and previously co-starred in a Funny or Die skit “Internet Cops with Nnamdi Asomugha.” He was also a fan favorite on the 2009 ABC adventure series “Expedition Impossible,” where he was hand-selected by producer Mark Burnett to compete in challenges across the globe.
Gbajabiamila has a long history of volunteering and social consciousness. He currently serves as a board member for the Asomugha Foundation, an organization aimed at creating better educational opportunities for impoverished communities. As a collegiate undergrad, Gbajabiamila joined Athletes for Education, a youth education program where he was able to promote financial literacy for youth in the San Diego community.
Gbajabiamila and his wife reside in Southern California with their four children and dog.