Behind the Mask: Gorilla Luke

It is no secret that Gorilla Luke has the largest following and the largest fists of any die-hard Dolphins fan in South Florida. But what many may not know, is that Luke also has the biggest heart. Follow us as we take a look behind the mask of one of the most recognized and beloved Dolphins fans to ever live.

“We are the die-hards, I’m never giving up on this team. I don’t care if they’re 15-1 or 1-15; I live, sleep, and breathe Miami Dolphins football.” –Gorilla Luke

Who are the Gorillas?

The Gorillas were formed in the summer of 2010 by Luke Quave and Josh Concia, two life-long Dolphins fans from Port Charlotte, Florida. The idea was conceived at a local costume store, where Luke spotted the costumes and infamously said to Josh, “We could be the Miami Dolphins Gorillas”. Josh laughed, and the rest was history. The original gorilla costumes were one-piece suits. Unfortunately, due to the extreme heat and humidity in Miami, this led to four separate occasions of Luke suffering from heat strokes. On two of those occasions, Luke had to be assisted by Miami Dolphins medical staff in the stands.

“I refuse to leave the game, so stick an IV in me, or I will die on this field”.

Eventually Luke realized that he better invest in a ventilated suit if he was going to do this long-term. So off to California he went, to the one place where costumes of all shapes and sizes are designed for Hollywood’s biggest stars. “I found one gorilla suit that had air conditioning inside, but it was $10,000.00”. Ultimately Luke settled on a more reasonably priced, five-piece suit that would allow air to flow more freely to all of his extremities. Luke’s passion didn’t stop there. Today, he currently owns 32 gorilla suits in all; including two pink suits for breast cancer awareness month, an orangutan suit, and a baboon suit. Luke also has 14 Dolphins related tattoos. If an entire closet full of gorilla suits in Dolphins apparel and a body full of Dolphins tattoos doesn’t scream “Die-Hard Dolphins fan”, then we don’t know what does.

Inspiration

Gorilla Luke has been attending Dolphins games since he was just three years old. He has not missed a home game in 26 years, and he often even attends road games as well. Despite being a Boston native and the son of a life-long New England Patriots fan, Luke has followed in his grandfather’s footsteps in his love and passion for the Dolphins. His grandfather took him to his first game in Miami as a toddler, and it also just so happened to be the debut of Hall of Fame quarterback, Dan Marino. “I just got so attached to it,” said Luke.

While his passion for the team came from his grandfather, his dream of becoming an iconic super-fan came entirely from long-time Dolphins fan, Roger Avila a.k.a. “The Dolfan Maniac” (pictured below). As a young boy, Luke always admired Roger and considered him to be “The coolest Dolphins fan”. Luke recalls often begging his parents, “Let’s go see the Maniac!” This has come full circle as present-day children now beg their parents for an opportunity to meet the Gorillas. In essence, Luke has fulfilled a life-long dream, but simply being one of the gorillas isn’t enough for Luke. For him, it’s all about the new interactions, the stories he gets to hear, and the smiles he is able to put on young kids faces week-in and week-out. “I love interacting with the kids, and they love seeing an 800lb gorilla!”

Becoming a Miami Staple

If you’re wondering if Luke is compensated for his dedication by the Dolphins organization, unfortunately the answer is no. However, this doesn’t seem to phase Luke much.

“I do believe the team should invest in super-fans who invest tons of money and tons of time, but I will go bankrupt to go to a Dolphins game. I would sleep under a bridge.”

Luke’s love for the Dolphins is unparalleled and unwavering. While the Dolphins organization may not have written Luke or his fellow gorillas any checks, they certainly have shown their appreciation for their loyalty. If you’ve recently attended a home game at Sun Life Stadium, you’re likely familiar with “The Deep End” section filled with wild Dolphins super-fans. This section in the stands was designed specifically for fans like Luke and the gorillas. The Dolphins organization wanted all of their super-fans to sit together in a visible location for everyone in attendance to see. They even made the super-fans an enormous “Deep End” banner to solidify their section. The other super-fans who populate this section include Gorilla Josh Concia, Gorilla Chase Mudgett, Kelsey (The Mermaid) Duffy, Fin Head, Stripe, Fin-Tiki, Lou (SpartPhin) Luckey, David & Marie Rodriguez, Amber (FinZatia) Miranda and Javier (the Don) Miranda, Roger (Elvis) Walker, Marc Angelo, Mirta Cordoves, Mr. Sticky, Alex Avello, James (Chucky) Roche, Jay (Dolphan) Villa, Griffen Van Nest, and Jen (Dolphin Diva) Schultz.

Dedication

Luke and his fellow gorillas usually have their suits on by 7:00 AM on game days and don’t take them off until around 5:00 PM that evening. They begin making their rounds through the parking lot full of tailgaters at 8:30 AM, as soon as the parking lot opens. “Sometimes we get stuck in the same spot for 45 minutes taking photos.” One can only wonder what drives this immense passion and dedication. Free drinks from rowdy tailgaters perhaps? On the contrary; the Gorillas never drink prior to games due to the unrelenting Miami heat. So if you happen to run in to the Gorillas while tailgating, an offer of water or Gatorade will likely be much more appreciated than an offer of an alcoholic beverage.

“For every photo I take with fans, I always get a story.”

Many fans want to tell Luke about how it’s their first Dolphins game, or how they traveled from across the country to be there. Many of them are actually big fans of the gorillas and are just thrilled to finally have the opportunity to meet them and take photos with them. Luke recalls one particular instance when a mom ran up to him- “Gorilla Luke! Can I get a photo with you? My son loves you, he will freak out when he sees that I met you!” Luke responded, “Of course, and where is your son?” The mom smiled and said “He plays for the team, Olivier Vernon.” For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Olivier Vernon is a Miami native and starting defensive end for the Dolphins (61 tackles, 7.5 sacks in 2015). As it turns out, you’re never too old to appreciate an 800lb gorilla head-to-toe in Dolphins gear.

Priceless Memories

Being one of the gorillas has allowed Luke to meet countless fans from around the world, and even iconic individuals within the organization, including Hall of Famers Larry Csonka and Don Shula. Miami Dolphin’s linebacker, Chris McCain even reached out to Luke on Twitter to inquire about acquiring his own gorilla mask. A few weeks later, an exchange in a team hotel elevator left McCain with his very own honorary gorilla mask. McCain proudly wore it during Dolphins pre-game warm-ups until a series of fines forced him to stop wearing it. But that doesn’t stop Dolphins players from routinely glancing up at Luke and his fellow gorillas and pounding their chests as a sign of mutual respect between players and super-fans.

Selfless Ambassador

As if being adored by Dolphins fans and players wasn’t enough, Luke goes above and beyond to make the games special for all young Dolphins fans that he meets. “I get free stuff thrown at me all the time, and I always give it to the kids.” Recently, at the Dolphins week 15 game vs. the Indianapolis Colts, The Ford Sideline Club had two extra tickets to go down on to the field, so they offered them to Luke. Luke gratefully accepted, walked approximately 10 feet to the first two young kids he saw, and asked their parents if they could go down on to the field. He then proceeded to escort the two kids to the nearest security gate so they could enjoy a once in a lifetime opportunity to be on the field during a live game. One may expect this kind of behavior from a paid employee, but not from a fan. For a fan, this kind of selfless gesture is extremely rare. When asked why he did this, Luke responded “Because I knew how much it would mean to them”. You’ll have a hard time finding a classier NFL fan than Luke Quave; not only in Miami, but in any city in the country.

If you’ve ever seen Luke at a game or perhaps up on the Sun Life Stadium jumbo-trons, you’re probably familiar with the over-sized necklaces, chains, and clocks he often wears around his neck. These are all made by Luke himself, and at the last home game of every season, he takes it off and it gives it to a young fan.

“This year I gave it to a kid who was paralyzed from the waist down. He loved it because it covered his legs which was very important to him.”

Luke continues to put the team, as well as the young fans above himself and for that, the Miami Dolphins organization and the city of Miami is forever indebted to him. It’s not every day that such a genuine individual, who embodies everything you want your fan base to stand for, offers to represent your team on a national stage without compensation.

“I will wear the gorilla suit until the day I die. I will wear it with an oxygen tank and a wheelchair.”

Gorilla Luke- on behalf of the entire city of Miami, we thank you and we salute you.

Meeting Gorilla Luke

Luke invites all fans to come and see him and the other gorillas prior to each game to take photos and share memories. The die-hard Dolphins fans who make up the majority of section 129 “The Deep End” all tailgate together in the East 22 lot every Sunday prior to kickoff. They also meet up on Saturday nights prior to home games at Twin Peaks Sports Bar in Davie, FL around 6:30 PM – 7:00 PM. They are usually there until around 10:00 PM talking Dolphins football.

Twin Peaks Davie
2000 S. University Drive
Davie, Florida 33317
Saturday Hours: 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM

“I would love to meet as many people as possible and hear their stories.”

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