Giants' Niko Lalos, whom LeBron James shouted out pregame, makes wild INT in NFL debut

Eric Edholm
·2 min read

When the New York Giants called up undrafted defensive tackle Niko Lalos from their practice squad prior to Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, it looked like just another procedural move in a season chock-full of them amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

That is, until LeBron James gave him a shoutout on Twitter.

James and Lalos are both graduates of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio — a school that has produced only a handful of NFL players. (The ColtsParris Campbell is another active alum of the school.)

Lalos made his NFL debut Sunday, his first game in more than a year. He finished his four-year career at Dartmouth with a two-sack, three-TFL game against Brown before starting his draft prep.

Lalos showed no signs of rust in making a fabulous interception Sunday in the Giants’ tight 19-17 victory at the Bengals.

Bengals replacement QB Brandon Allen tried to force a pass into traffic, and it was deflected up in the air by rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes. The ball seemed to hang in the air forever, and Lalos laid out to make the grab.

Lalos went racing to the sideline with the trophy ball in hand, and he was mobbed by the teammates he officially joined Sunday morning.

What an emotional moment for a player who only recently reunited with his father.

Lalos had an interception for the Big Green last season, the only one of his college career, running it back 22 yards for a touchdown against Princeton.

Who is keeping the game ball from Sunday? LeBron? Dad?

We wouldn’t blame Lalos if he hung onto this one.

Niko Lalos dives to intercept a pass.
New York Giants undrafted rookie Niko Lalos intercepts a pass during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Nov. 29, 2020. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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