Nearly three months after suffering a paralyzing spinal injury, University of Hawaii defensive lineman Kalepo Naotala was reunited with his teammates Thursday in Colorado.
The 19-year-old Virginia Beach native was injured back in July after diving head-first into shallow waters in Waikiki.
He is currently going through rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., and has since gained most of his upper mobility.
The morning was an emotional one as players greeted Naotala with handshakes and hugs.
“It felt good to be surrounded by them again,” Naotala said. “Ever since I met most of them in January, they’ve been my family.”
“Doesn’t matter where any of our family is, if they need us, we’ll be there,” said head football coach Nick Rolovich. “(Naotala) was all about our philosophy of living aloha and then play a warrior when it’s time to play football, and I think that’s why you see how important he is to these guys.”
The ‘Bows made the stop on their way to Wyoming for this Saturday’s Mountain West Conference season-opener.
Kick-off is set for 4:15 p.m. Hawaii time. The game will be televised on ESPN2.Photos provided by University of Hawaii. Video provided by KCNC in Denver.