Mesa native Troy Kotsur prepares to perform national anthem in ASL at Super Bowl

Kotsur, an Academy Award winner, will become the second person in a host city to sign the anthem.
Kotsur became the second deaf actor to win an Academy Award for his role in the film “CODA.”
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 9:18 AM MST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2023 at 8:44 AM MST
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5) When Troy Kotsur returns to the Valley this week, he will become the second person in a host city to sign the national anthem at Super Bowl LVII.

And while he’s here, he also hopes to beat his brother at a round of golf. That’s because this is a homecoming for Kotsur, who was born and raised in Mesa. “It’s a beautiful community and my family and relatives are there,” Kotsur said. “And when I’m out of town, someone can help take care of my dog (Stella).”

Kotsur, who became the second deaf actor to win an Academy Award for his role in the film “CODA,” was chosen to perform the national anthem in American sign language at this year’s Super Bowl. He will be alongside country music star Chris Stapleton.

Arizona’s Family got a chance to catch up with Kotsur before he returns to Arizona for rehearsals. Kotsur is a big football fan and always roots for the Arizona Cardinals. When the National Association of the Deaf asked if he would be interested in performing at the big game, he was on the fence. That was until his “CODA” co-star, Marlee Matlin got in touch with him and he later learned the Super Bowl was in his home state.

“It’s not their year as far as the Cards, but I’m so happy the Super Bowl is taking place in Arizona,” he said.

Kotsur played football at Westwood High School in Mesa, later going on to play basketball at Gallaudet University. He’s also a huge Phoenix Suns fan and hopes to see them win a championship.

What can we expect on Sunday? Kotsur plans to wear a Western style hat that will represent Arizona and pair well with Stapleton’s style. Kotsur thinks that in his theater days, the most people he ever performed in front of was 2,500. Over 70,000 people are expected to be at State Farm Stadium for the Super Bowl.

“I’m going to play the character of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the national anthem,” Kotsur said. “And I plan to tell it from his perspective in the way that I’m signing it, so I really analyzed his history when he was writing this song so I am going to become like him and what he saw during the war.”

Growing up, Kotsur never saw anyone sign the national anthem. That didn’t come until about 10 or 15 years ago. “To see the community is beginning to accept us deaf people and embrace diversity and inclusion, it’s really important,” Kotsur said. “Because when I was a kid, I couldn’t even imagine seeing someone perform at the Super Bowl who is deaf.”

There are more than one million deaf or hard-of-hearing people in our state, according to the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. As Kotsur works on other projects, he’s happy to share his “CODA” success with the people of Arizona.

“Well, what’s important for me is to see a lot of young deaf kids be inspired by a person who’s successful and who happens to be deaf,” Kotsur said. “And that really shows that deaf people can do anything.”

What will Kotsur do after the Super Bowl? Enjoy our state’s beautiful weather and of course, family. “After the Super Bowl I think I’ll make some time for golf,” Kotsur said. “And maybe get together with my brothers. That’s my goal: to kick their butts.”

Tap/click here for complete coverage leading up to Super Bowl LVII.

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