It may be 6 a.m. and walls in student housing may be wafer thin, but when BYU center Rafael Araujo rises to work out, shower and shave, he's got rap music blaring, his head is bobbing back and forth to the bass and he's dancing and twirling around the apartment as if it's a music video and he's the star.

This ritual is something his wife, Cheyenne, wakes up to in the adjoining bedroom. It's why she wakes up laughing, even if neighbors may be annoyed.

Araujo's boundless enthusiasm and energy to start the day is not only funny, it's inspiring.

Even in a foul-plagued performance in Laramie on Saturday, big Araujo showed his intensity in scoring 17 with 7 rebounds in 24 minutes of BYU's win over Wyoming.

Hoffa, as he's called, is 6-foot-11, 265 pounds. When he arrived from Brazil to play basketball at Arizona Western three years ago, he had just $5 in his pocket. He spoke no English. His biggest fear was he would spend a lazy day and cheat himself out of the American dream — if you work hard enough, anything is possible including a career in the NBA.

"There's no way I can't get it, if I work hard enough, right?" Hoffa often asks his wife.

"This is America, right? If you work hard, you get it, right? This is why I love America is because if you work for it you can make it, heh? It's why I love this country. You can't say that about other places but this is America. You can be anything, right?"

Cheyenne feeds his faith but says, "the bigger they are the harder they fall. He's afraid to fail.

"He's such a big man, yet he's so soft and gentle heart. You want to see him succeed because he believes this is the land of opportunity and he's so driven and so positive and works so hard."

The exception to Hoffa's exuberance may be game days. The night before, he's serious as a heart attack. He goes over all his moves and that of his opponent. When asked in the morning how he slept, he answers: "Terrible."

Work and drive is in Hoffa's blood. His father is an attorney in Sao Paulo who studied to be a judge and now works on overseas contracts while teaching mathematics and physics at a local high school.

Araujo's mother, Neuza, does everything. She operates an insurance real estate business and owns a little shop and restaurant. One day when Hoffa and Cheyenne were walking past Victoria's Secret in a local mall, Hoffa said: "Hey, my mom makes lingerie."

Cheyenne, who grew up in San Diego, is learning Portuguese as Hoffa increases his English vocabulary. Working to understand each other through cultural differences is something she calls an "adventure" because Araujo is so different from American men she's known. He's great on manners, respect and honor. He formally calls his mother Senhora and his father Senhor and here he addresses people as "ma'am" and "sir."

Cheyenne met Hoffa at Arizona Western where she played volleyball. Hoffa just arrived from Brazil on a basketball scholarship. One day a Brazilian teammate invited Cheyenne to join her in the cafeteria and meet a few of the Brazilian basketball players. It was one of those cheesy romantic moments. "As soon as I looked into his eyes, something happened," remembers Cheyenne. Eleven months later, they were married.

A Mormon, Cheyenne was pleasantly surprised last August when two LDS missionaries, natives of Brazil, knocked on her door. Hoffa was away in Indianapolis playing for the Brazilian National Team in the World Championships. But upon his return, Hoffa agreed to take formal discussions with missionaries. Still non-LDS, Hoffa accompanies his wife to church in an LDS Portuguese ward in Orem each Sunday in an effort to learn of his wife's beliefs and give support as a husband.

Hoffa sets aside one night a week so he and Cheyenne, who works at Gold's Gym corporate offices in Orem, go out. Often the date is the movies. Last week it was "Lord of the Rings." Most nights, Hoffa relaxes by playing video games like PlayStation's NBA Street Ball. Together they enjoy Tech and Tag, pairing up and fighting other cyber teams. When Hoffa cooks, his favorite dish is rice, beans, steak and eggs.

"He cooks it all up and mixes it up together. It's wonderful. I love it.

He's a great cook," says Cheyenne.

He misses his family in Sao Paulo, five time zones and a 15-hour flight away. "He tells me I'm the only family he has. It's hard not to just pick up the phone and call his parents or brother. He misses that contact. He's bonded with teammate Travis Hansen because they're a lot alike and play the game the same."

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In short, Cheyenne loves her pick as companion. "No man has ever treated me the way he does."

In the meantime, for Hoffa, it's on to Fort Collins for a Monday clash with the Rams. Cheyenne can't wait for his return, the morning rap dance; later, the steak, beans and eggs over rice.

As Senhora Araujo, Cheyenne's never been happier.


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