Hawaii sports icon Rockne Freitas passed away at the age of 76 on Wednesday.

Freitas, a Kamehameha alum who went on start at center for Oregon State’s 1965 Rose Bowl team, enjoyed an 11-year NFL career. His first 10 years were spent with the Detroit Lions, while his final season was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1978.

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In 1972, the 6-foot-6 Freitas earned a Pro Bowl selection at tackle, becoming the first native Hawaiian to become a selection in the modern AFC/NFC Pro Bowl.

“I think one of his years he was the Lions offensive MVP, that’s huge for an O-lineman,” his son, Makoa Freitas, told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “He doesn’t even touch the ball every play at all and he still got that, that was nuts, and he played on teams with Hall of Famers.”

Following his accomplished playing career, Rockne Freitas had a major impact on the islands as both an educator and administrator. He spent 23 years in the University of Hawaii system, serving a number of high roles, such as chancellor of UH-West Oahu and Hawaii Community College. He was also vice president for student affairs and university community relations for UH-West Oahu, as well as the interim athletic director for UH-Manoa in 2012.

Freitas is also credited for negotiating Hawaii’s move to the Mountain West Conference as a football-only member.

“Just looking at high school football and Hawaii football. He loved helping out Hawaii players, he loved helping out the local boys,” Makoa Freitas says. “He was really happy when they stayed at UH and they went over there and he loved to see local kids succeed.”

Fretias is also an inductee of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. Additionally, he is recognized as a distinguished alum at both Oregon State (undergraduate) and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he has both masters and doctoral degrees.

“He loved to say that he was a C student high school, B student in college and then going to grad school, that’s when it all clicked for him,” Makoa Freitas said of his father. “If a C student in high school could do it, anybody can and that was what he would always say. He always said that nothing bad could come from hard work. Everything was about getting the local kids educated and I think that’s where his legacy will live on if you ask me.”