DALLAS (FWAA) – Hawai’i’s Makani Kema-Kaleiwahea has been nominated for the 2016 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.
The annual award recognizes courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The national award typically garners just 10 nominees per year. It’s voted on by a select group from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been presented annually since 2002. This year’s award winner will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.
Kema-Kaleiwahea grew up on O’ahu as the oldest in an adoptive family of six kids. After receiving a football scholarship to the University of Arizona, his family followed him to Tucson, Ariz. Soon after, at the age of 18, he learned his five siblings were in an abusive environment and he became their caregiver, even though he was a full-time student-athlete.
After marrying in 2014, he and his wife, Brianna, found assistance from extended family members, who adopted three of the children. Makani and Brianna adopted his other two siblings. Kema-Kaleiwahea and his family returned home in 2015, as Makani transferred to Hawai’i to bring the siblings and extended family closer together.
A 6-foot-3, 240-pound redshirt senior lineman, Kema-Kaleiwahea leads all UH defensive lineman with 27 tackles this season, including two sacks. The defensive lineman has started all eight games for the Rainbow Warriors, and tallied four stops in this past Saturday’s 34-27 double-overtime upset win at Air Force.
Earlier this season, Kema-Kaleiwahea was among a select group of 24 college football players named to the 2016 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®, which recognizes those who dedicate their time to bettering the community and the lives of others.