HONOLULU (KHON2) — Jim Leahey, the longtime broadcaster of UH sports, has died at the age of 80. Family and friends are mourning the loss of the voice that ruled the airwaves for six decades.
Whether it’s football, basketball, volleyball or many other UH sports, Jim Leahey delivered the play-by-play on TV and on the radio. His son Kanoa said nothing gave his father more joy than to see UH teams succeed.
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“And, so, for him to serve as the soundtrack, the narrator for so many of those moments, it was really special; and I think what we have discovered today is how much that has meant to a lot of people out there in the community,” said Kanoa.
The family said Jim died after battling a long illness. He retired in 2018 and spoke to KHON2 about the pressure of being the voice of UH sports.
“When you had the job that I had, every day, every week, you had to deliver because there was another game in a different sport with different people,” said Jim in 2019.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi worked side by side with him for 13 years covering UH football.
“He had that special ability. He could bring you in right from the pre-game and then throughout the game, and even sometimes the most simple plays he could turn into a very exciting element,” said Blangiardi.
And, those who knew him well said he also had that sharp wit that made him a lot of fun to be with.
“Even when he would make me crazy at different times, he was always so much fun to be with because he had that zest for life,” said Blangiardi.
“He had this ability to rip people to shreds right in front of their faces and then they walk away saying, ‘wow Jim is such a cool dude’,” said Kanoa.
Former colleagues point out that Leahey could have worked anywhere. But, sports fans here are lucky that he never wanted to leave.
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“There’s no question in my mind at all that he could have gone big time. He could have been a national broadcaster, but he didn’t want to leave Hawaii,” said Pal Eldredge, who worked with Leahey doing UH baseball games.
Leahey leaves behind a wife, three children and a grandchild.