About a year ago we reported alarming news about Keith Uperesa, the former Punahou great and then an assistant football coach at UNLV. Uperesa was battling two different cancers while also dealing with a diagnosis of diabetes.
We caught up with him when Hawaii played at UNLV in September, and he was recovering well from surgery and radiation therapy. Today, he’s still healthy, and completes a three-week stay in Hawaii. Uperesa is now on the staff at Nicholls State and returns to Thibodaux, La., to begin preparations for the season.
“Last year was a rough year,” he said. “Things are a lot better now.”
There was some sad irony for him on this trip home, though. On his first day back in Hawaii, Uperesa attended a memorial service for his close friend and Punahou teammate, Mosi Tatupu. Tatupu died in February. Last year when he learned of Uperesa’s health problems, Tatupu spearheaded a fund-raiser to help him and his family.
“Anyone who knows Mosi knows that’s the kind of person he always was,” Uperesa said. “A great friend. He was very comforting.
“I had a great visit with (Tatupu’s son) Lofa and (wife) Linnea at the memorial at Punahou,” he added.
Uperesa said he’s still “adjusting to the bayou.” He said he is recruiting three former Hawaii high school football players who are now in junior colleges on the mainland.
“Our school president hired Tommy Lee at Montana-Western, so he knows about Hawaii football,” Uperesa said.
–By Dave Reardon