Kahlil Bell recalls when his cousin Sam Poueu told him he was accepted to be a contestant on NBC's "The Biggest Loser" with another cousin Koli Palu.
"He was always 'big Sam'" Bell said of his Samoan brother.
But Poueu didn't stay big for long. He went fron 372 pounds during Season 9 of the show, to 238 pounds, a loss of 142 pounds.
"It's been a great transformation to see where he is now," Bell explained.
But Sam came close to not being able to watch his cousin Kahlil perform in Sunday Night's football game. Sam nearly died the weekend before the NFL season began.
"I got a text message..." Bell recalled, "It said Sam had fallen off a building and he was in critical condition... when I heard about it I was really shook up."
Poueu had been celebrating a friend's birthday over dinner and got locked out on a rooftop. '
He tried climbing down the fire escape but fell four stories. Poueu lie unconconsious in San Francisco General Hospital nearloy four weeks suffering from internal pelvic & lung injuries, a broken leg, doctors removed half of Poueu's skull to relieve swelling on his brain. Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith gave Bell permission to head back West to see Sam.
"He was responsive but couldn't talk... he would squeeze your hand or give you a thumbs up." While Bell had to return to the football field for the Chicago Bears, Sam was not far from his mind. "There was a time when nobody really knew if he'd come out of it, how was he going to be?" Bell said, "Was he going to be himself, or what was the extent of the brain damage?"
Bell's voice trailed off before saying, "Medically he should not be here right now." But Bell went back to work because he knew Poueu didn't want him to fail and not take advantage of the opportunity the Bears were giving.
Three months later While Bell was preparing for his shot, Poueu was released from the hospital. Bell would be replacing Matt Forte as the Bears starting tailback. And Sam Poueu would survive with a long road of recovery ahead of him. "His motor skills are back, he did have a lot of brain damage, nothing major or long term that we know of yet" Bell recalled. But Sam would be okay. "It was tough, but I knew he would keep fighting and I knew no matter what happens I still have a job to do."
A long road. Sunday Night on NBC, Bell was one of the lone bright spots in a bleak game ending the Chicago Bears playoff hopes. And come spring while Sam Poueu walks down the aisle to marry his fiancee Stephanie Anderson, Bell will be there with him, as the best man. Opportunity given to one family member is shared by all.