Junior Galette: 'Best week of my life'

METAIRIE, La. -- The "best week" of Junior Galette's life continued Thursday with a special tribute from his teammates. The New Orleans Saints linebacker arrived in the locker room to find his locker filled with dozens of basketballs, with a live guard dog protecting them and some Rihanna music playing.

The Saints tweeted out a photo of Galette's locker.

Galette, who signed a new four-year contract extension worth between $41.5 and $48 million Wednesday, had shared the personal meaning of those items with teammates earlier in the week after they selected him as a captain for the first time.

Galette grew up poor in Haiti until he was 10 years old and then in New York when his parents were finally able to afford moving his brothers and him to the United States. And according to observers, Galette told teammates the story of how he used to hate having his basketballs stolen because he couldn't afford new ones, so he would bring his Rottweiler with him to protect his basketballs.

"It's a long story, and it's kind of personal. ... It's just a story that happened early in my childhood that I gave them, referenced kinda having my dogs with me. I'm not gonna get into the details, but obviously it was pretty moving," Galette said. "I think it was Drew (Brees) that was behind it. It was pretty special for me to know that a teammate such as Drew, who's the No. 1 guy on the team could even have me in their thought process.

"Man, it's the best week of my life. Now I've got to cap it off and have a monster performance this game."

Brees, meanwhile, said it was a group effort among all the quarterbacks -- each of whom added their own personal touches. The "guard dog" was on loan from one of the coaching assistants.

As for Rihanna, Galette's admiration for the music star is well known. He tweeted Wednesday that winning a Super Bowl and Rihanna as a girlfriend are the last items now remaining on his bucket list.

Galette's enthusiasm for both football and life has always made him one of the most endearing players in the locker room since he arrived as an undrafted free agent out of Stillman College in 2010. Last year he was honored by the New Orleans media as the annual winner of the "Jim Finks Good Guy Award."

And Galette has been beloved by fans, from when they first started labeling him as a "beast" as a young pass rusher to when that personal connection evolved in recent years over Twitter.

When a reporter said Thursday, "I don't know if you like this or not, but you've really become one of the faces of the city ..." Galette let out a big laugh.

"I don't like it, I love it," Galette said. "I love it. I feel like I work hard for it. Now I just have to stay here and keep working hard."