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Mark Tuinei
Position(s)
Offensive tackle
Jersey #(s)
71
Born March 31, 1960(1960-03-31)
Oceanside, California
Died May 6, 1999 (aged 39)
Career information
Year(s) 19831997
College Hawaii
Professional teams
Career stats
Games played 195
Games started 147
Seasons 15
Stats at NFL.com
Career highlights and awards

Mark Pulemau Tuinei (March 31, 1960 – May 6, 1999) was an American football offensive tackle in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. Known as a "gentle giant", his career lasted for 15 years (1983–1997) and his ability to protect quarterback Troy Aikman and to run-block for running back Emmitt Smith helped them win Super Bowls in 1993, 1994, and 1996 and the NFC East Division in 1985 and 1992-96. He was also selected for the Pro Bowl in 1994 and 1995.

Contents

Early life

Tuinei was born in Oceanside, California and raised in Nanakuli, Hawai'i and attended Punahou School in Honolulu. He was Hawaii Prep Lineman of the Year as a senior, a state shot put champion and an all-star basketball player.

College career

Tuinei played for two seasons at UCLA on the defensive line before transferring home to the University of Hawaii. His brother Tom was an All-Western Athletic Conference defensive tackle at Hawaii and played for the Detroit Lions and the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos.

Death

In May 1999, Tuinei was found unconscious in his car and pronounced dead upon arrival at a hospital in the Dallas suburb of Plano. He had been planning to return to Punahou School as offensive line coach. The autopsy revealed that Tuinei died of a lethal combination of heroin and a form of the drug ecstasy. His death was ruled an accident. Upon the release of the autopsy, Plano police chief Bruce Glasscock was quoted as saying that it was Tuinei's first experience with heroin. Glasscock did not elaborate how that determination was made.

"What you had was a 39-year-old male, 6'5", in excess of 300 pounds, a healthy individual, took one shot of heroin and basically dropped dead as a result," Glasscock said during his press conference regarding Tuinei.

The four individuals who worked for the drug ring that provided Tuinei with the lethal dose of heroin were later sentenced in Sherman, Texas. Julian Solis Perez and Andres Milan were sentenced to eleven-year prison terms and Favian Ramos a twelve-year sentence. Jesus Carbajal received a life sentence. The men were charged, tried and convicted for conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine.

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