Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva reunited with a special person from his past over Super Bowl weekend and ESPN was there to capture the moment.
For the son of Spanish-born parents and a graduate of West Point who served three tours in Afghanistan and was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal for pulling a wounded soldier out of a gun-fight you’d think his story would be widely known and told repeatedly around the NFL.
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Alejandro Villanueva has a fascinating back story but it’s the story of the bond between him and his Afghani interpreter, Mohammad Arif Azimi that he specifically wanted to be told.
ESPN’s show SC Featured will air a new season during the 11 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter following the Golden State Warriors-Oklahoma City Thunder NBA game on Saturday night. The show features a segment filmed over Super Bowl weekend when Villanueva reunited with Azimi.
The segment is called “Brothers in Arms” and will be re-shown in different versions of SportsCenter throughout the weekend. ESPN’s Ashley Fox describes how Alejandro Villanueva declined a special about him last year but he contacted her last week with this story.
The story about the bond between Villanueva and Azimi culminated after 16 months of work put in by Villanueva to get Azimi a special immigrant visa. Azimi arrived in the U.S. and has been living in Houston, which hosted Super Bowl LI last week.
Villanueva wanted ESPN to capture the moment when he reunited with his interpreter for the first time since serving together in Afghanistan. Azimi put his life in danger in Afghanistan to work with the U.S. soldiers against the Taliban forces.