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  • Celebrity Drive: Houston Texans Defensive Tackle Amobi Okoye

Celebrity Drive: Houston Texans Defensive Tackle Amobi Okoye

One of the Few People Who Can Say He Said "No" When Harvard Called

K.S. Wang
May 24, 2010
Quick Stats: Amobi Okoye, Houston Texans defensive tackle
Daily Driver: 2007 Range Rover (Amobi's rating: 9 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: Read on
Favorite drive: Back roads outside Houston
Car he learned to drive in: 1984 Dodge Aries
First car bought: 2007 Range Rover
Photo 2/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye Houston Texan Headshot
Houston Texans defensive tackle Amobi Okoye was so focused on a career in the NFL that he is one of the few people who can say he said no when Harvard called.
Okoye's dad asked the question most parents might ask when their child turns down Harvard: "No one says no to Harvard." "Harvard, among other Ivy league schools, sent me letters to go play football there. But I had different dreams," Okoye explains. "I do plan on still going to med school after I'm done playing football."
Photo 3/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye Defensive Tackle
Okoye's decision proved to be the right one. He opted for the University of Louisville, which did in fact take him to the NFL. A week after reaching his goal of getting drafted by the Texans (at 19, he was the youngest NFL player to be drafted) in 2007, Okoye bought a Range Rover. "I bought my mom a car first, then I bought my car," Okoye points out. "I bought her a white Mercedes, the van SUV. I wanted to buy a sedan, but she said she wanted a van for her back."
Okoye gives the Range Rover, which is one of his daily drivers, a 9 rating. "A lot of people say they don't like it," he says. "People used to ask me about that, and I tell them I love mine. Mine is very, very faithful to me. All I have to do is get it serviced, and that's it. When I first moved here, the humidity and heat almost killed me, so I got the front windows tinted."
Photo 4/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye Front
2010 Toyota Tundra
Rating: 10
Photo 8/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye 2010 Toyota Tundra
Okoye's other daily driver is his 2010 Toyota Tundra, which has satellite TV and gets a perfect 10. "I just got it during Thanksgiving and lifted it up, a 12-inch lift so it's like a Tonka truck. I call it an Amobilizer," he laughs. "It's comfortable to drive in and ride in. In Houston it takes an average of 20 minutes to get to a majority of places. Therefore, with the TV and Xbox, you keep yourself entertained while you ride."
CT Customs in Houston worked on all his cars, including rebuilding his 1978 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, lifting the Tundra, adding satellite TV and putting rims on the Range Rover. "The fact that it's jacked up and it's so big, it's huge and the facial expression my little sister had when she first saw it, it was priceless!" he says.
Photo 9/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye Amobi Pose

1979 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Rating: 10
Photo 10/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo
"I really love all my cars," Okoye says emphatically. "Being the youngest player to get drafted to the National Football League in college and always having to deal with being young, young, young, young. On my 21st birthday, that was the gift to myself. I had to take an old school and revamp it into something new."
He paid only $2000 for it and put in a 502 engine, changed the seats and added a personal logo on the hood, which he says, "you see very clearly when you walk up close to it, but when you're far away you can't see it."
Photo 11/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye Chevy Monte Carlo
Okoye may start entering it in auto shows sometime. "I've gotten requests to come to car shows, and I haven't gotten out of bed to go to car shows," he laughs. "I just got to prep myself up for it."
With all the upgrades, the Monte Carlo is now worth $50,000 and Okoye is very conscious about maintaining it. "Because it's old school, you've got to make sure to drive it at least once a week," he says.
2010 Porsche Panamera
Rating: 10
Photo 12/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye 2010 Porsche Panamera
"Oh, man, I've definitely got to give that a 10. It's the first four-door Porsche and my first 'sports car,'" Okoye says, emphasizing the last two words. "The look is unique. It's not uncomfortable at all. It's very fast. I get a lot of looks in the Porsche, the Monte Carlo, and the truck."
2007 Lexus LS 460 L
Rating: 9
Photo 13/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye Rims
The Lexus LS 460 L is the second car Okoye bought after he got drafted into the NFL. "It glides. It's very, very roomy," he emphasizes. "It can fit five way more comfortably than the Range Rover. It's big on the inside. I like the fact that it's so huge and it has a lot of trunk space and it's still very fast."
Car he learned to drive in
Okoye was born in Nigeria and moved to Huntsville, Alabama, when he was 12. "[The school administrators] wanted to send me back to middle school and I refused," he says. "They gave me a couple tests to see what my education level was, and they determined I was at a good level and I could stay in high school." At 12, Okoye was the youngest student in his high school.
Photo 14/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye Daily Drive Line
His dad taught him how to drive in a 1984 Dodge Aries, taking Okoye to a nearby parking lot in Huntsville. At 13, Okoye took driver's ed with the other high school students, but got his license at 16.
Photo 15/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye Phone Call
For his prom, Okoye got to drive his dad's new ride. "I had to have someone with a license with me all the time, so my brother would always ride with me. For the prom, my date had her own license," Okoye cracks up mid-sentence. "She was old enough to have a license and so it worked out. I asked my dad if I could drive his car. I'm sure he prayed that night. All I had was my permit then. He bought a Ford Expedition, that's why he prayed; it was a brand-new car."
When Okoye went to college, his dad bought him a 1998 Toyota Camry. "In my freshman year in college, I was begging for a car and telling Dad I needed it," Okoye recounts. "I wrecked it within two weeks, so I didn't get another one till my sophomore year- a 2000 Chevy Impala."
Photo 16/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye Texan Mascot
There was a bit of irony for the future NFL player, in how he got into a car accident just two weeks after he got the Camry. The accident wasn't Okoye's fault.
"I was making a left-hand turn and the light was yellow. I could go ahead and make the turn because the guy was far away. He decided to speed up to catch the light and he saw me making the turn. He said he was rushing to go watch 'Monday Night Football.' He saw me, but he was hoping he would miss me. But I gradually made my turn. I didn't think he was going to catch the light. So my occupation cost me the wreck," he laughs.
Favorite drive
Okoye loves driving the back roads from his house outside of Houston into the city for errands and football practice. "Now that I have the truck, I enjoy just getting on the road and driving," Okoye says. "The back streets into the city from my neighborhood-it has clear roads and no traffic."
Houston Texans
Okoye says last year, for him and as a team, was a great season. "It was the best record as a team we've ever had," he says, proudly. "We almost made it into playoffs, but we fell short by one team, the New York Jets. We beat the Patriots at the end of season, and if the Jets had lost to the Colts and everything happened as it should have happened, we would have been in the playoffs," he says, adding he is looking forward to another great season.
Photo 17/20   |   Celebrity Drive Amobi Koye Tackle
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