Ali is 2010 graduate from the United States Military Academy, West Point where he played as a member of the Black Knights football team. After graduation, he commissioned as an Infantry Officer in the US Army in 2010 and, after earning his Ranger tab, deployed as a rifle platoon leader to Afghanistan in support Operation Enduring Freedom. While deployed, he earned the Combat Infantryman Badge and a Bronze Star with “V” device for valor for his actions in combat. Ali also served in the 75th Ranger Regiment where he deployed two more times to Afghanistan.
While still on active duty, Villanueva decided to try and make his NFL dreams a reality. In 2014, Ali was signed by the the Pittsburgh Steelers and made his debut the following year during the 2015 season opener against the New England Patriots. He continued to put in time on the field in the 2015 season and, in 2016, was named as the starting left tackle for the Steelers. He finished the season ranking as the 23rd best offensive tackle in the NFL. Villanueva is also currently a finalist for the 2017 USAA Salute to Service Award.