Coming from a military family, Nu'uese Punimata didn't have to guess about his responsibilities, whether making his bed or speaking respectfully to others.
Or scrubbing the entire bathroom with a toothbrush.
"To a lot of kids, that sounds like a punishment," the 24-year-old Punimata said. "That was just normal to us."
He didn't follow his parents' career paths, but Punimata learned discipline and respect. That's why it's fitting he chose to play the tough, physical, demanding sport of rugby.
He is on the U.S. team that plays in the USA Sevens Las Vegas, a 16-nation tournament Saturday and Sunday at Sam Boyd Stadium that is part of the Sevens World Series.
Punimata entered the sport after his football-playing career at Texas-El Paso ended in 2008. The light-skinned Samoan looks like he grew up on a California beach, not a Polynesian island, which threw off U.S. coach Al Caravelli when he attended the national club championship in August.
"I kept saying, 'Where the heck is this guy?' " Caravelli said. "I thought maybe they got the numbers mixed."
Caravelli finally figured out who he was watching and even now sees the military discipline in Punimata, who, at 6 feet 2 inches and 240 pounds, he called "a load going forward."
"What caught my eye was his power and his explosiveness," Caravelli said. "He's a guy that's not flashy, but he does all the dirty work."
That seems appropriate, given Punimata's toilet-scrubbing background underneath his military parents' roof.
His father, Nicholas, spent seven years in the Army Rangers and then the past 21 in the Special Forces. In 2001, he became what is believed to be the first Samoan to receive the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.
Nicholas most recently filled the only Special Forces position in the Central Command forward headquarters in Qatar, overseeing the U.S. military actions in the Middle East. His top-secret work prevents him from speaking about specifics even with his family.
"It's one of those deals where he'll say, 'I'll see you in three months' or 'I'll see you in a year and a half,' " Punimata said. "So he calls whenever he can to let us know he's all right."
Punimata's mother, Sharon, is with the Washington state National Guard and has spent 26 years in the military. She was deployed to Iraq for 18 months in 2004 and 2005.
"It was really (difficult) because I didn't know what was going on with her, and she didn't know what was going on with me, and the kids were caught in the middle," Nicholas said. "A couple of noncommissioned officers would find out she was all right.
"It was emotional, and it takes its toll."
Now both parents are back in the States, and they will be at Sam Boyd this weekend. Sharon appears to be home to stay, and Nicholas is "hoping to take a little bit of a break."
Nicholas, the liaison this weekend for the Samoan team, follows his son's new career. When he was based in Qatar, Nicholas drove two hours in December to see Punimata play in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Like his parents, Punimata is serving his country, but in a different way, representing the U.S. when rugby sevens becomes an Olympic sport in 2016.
Those associated with U.S. rugby hope the Olympics help the sport take off domestically, and Punimata would love to be an integral part of that.
"I want to play with these guys for another 15, 20 years if my body will allow me to," Punimata said. "I want to stay here for as long as I can."
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914.