Lapuaho Family Comes Full Circle

Last Friday, Coach Mendenhall received a commit from Hunter High School offensive tackle Ului "Lui" Lapuaho. He committed to BYU in an effort to finish what his father started long ago.

Back in 1985 a young Rob Lapuaho came to BYU as a big offensive lineman. He played at BYU from 1985-89, with a mission to Raleigh, North Carolina mixed in there as well.

"I played for LaVell Edwards back then and he is such a good man," said big Rob. "The thing that impressed me mostly about LaVell Edwards was that football wasn't even the first priority for him. He was more concerned with me first as an individual, making sure I kept my relationship tight with my mom and dad, and then he worried about my education. Football was always on the backburner for LaVell Edwards. He figured that if he took care of all the other more important things like family, spirituality, and education and church, the football stuff would come easy. Bronco Mendenhall is the same way and has the same core values."

However, Rob's football career was cut short.

"I got hurt so I was never able to finish playing football," recalled Rob. "It was an unfortunate circumstance for me after I got injured."

He went on to marry Maugaloa Tatafu, and the couple now has 10 children. They have a son Al that plays football for Snow College, and another football-playing son in 6-foot-7-inch, 285-pound Lui, a starter at Granger High School.

"I received word last Wednesday what was up and BYU wanted us to come down on Friday," said Rob. "So on Wednesday I just kind of talked to my son about, you know, what would happen if BYU offered him, but I didn't tell him that I got word that this might happen or what our intensions were. My wife and I knew what was going on but we didn't tell our son about it.

"We made plans and went down to BYU last Friday and met with Coach Mendenhall. My wife and I were very excited because any time someone offers your son a full-ride education, it's a great day."

But before the offer was extended, Rob asked his son a hypothetical question to see where his heart was.

"I said, ‘If you have any pick in the country, where would you want to go play football at?'" said Rob. "Lui just kind of looked at me and said, ‘Dad, if I had anywhere I could pick, I would just want to go to BYU.' I said ‘Why,' and he said ‘Because I'm LDS, and I'm sorry dad, that's where you went. I've wanted to go to BYU ever since I was a little kid because that's where you played. Now I'm older and I would love to go to BYU and play if I ever got a chance.'

"I was shocked and said, ‘You don't even want to go to USC or play for somebody else that might come along?' He said, ‘Oh, as flattering as that may be, no. My whole life I've been about BYU and I don't care who comes along whether it's Florida, Utah or whoever.' He pretty much told me then where his heart and desires were; if someone were to offer him, he would want it to be BYU. So we kept it quiet from him."

While his parents may have known what was going to happen, Lui was very surprised when he received the scholarship offer.

"He was absolutely shocked," Rob said. "He was shocked and just sat there quietly there for about 10 minutes. He really couldn't believe it and didn't think he was at that level to play at a place like BYU."

With a little prodding from his father, Lui finally broke his silence.

"I'm sure Coach Kaufusi and Coach Mendenhall were nervous because they kept saying, ‘You have all the way ‘til next February to answer us,'" Rob said with a laugh. "It was quiet like I said for about 10 minutes because he just sat there. I kind of just broke the silence and said, ‘Hey Lui, are you going to answer him today or are you going to wait?' That's when he snapped out of it and said, ‘You know what, I'm coming!' After Coach Mendenhall talked to him he finally just blurted out, ‘Yes, I want to come' and accepted the offer.

"I know Coach Mendenhall was happy after Lui committed to him. He smiled and counseled him to finish his schoolwork up strong and improve in his life in every aspect. He told him what he needed to do.

"My wife and I sat by him and supported his decision. After he committed I said to Lui, ‘You know, people will still come after you and try to knock you off your commitment.' He looked at me and said, ‘Dad, I'm committed to BYU and have everything I ever wanted.' There isn't anything that anyone can offer him that can take him away from his childhood dreams."

Lui wasn't the only one shocked by his offer from BYU.

"His siblings were shocked too," said Rob with a laugh. "They just look at him like a regular kid, you know. They don't see him as this 6'7", 285-pound young man. They just look at him as kind of a giant teddy bear, but it's shocking because we never sent him to any camps or anything like that. BYU saw the film and it kind of just fell into place from there."

With Lui having accepted the scholarship offer from BYU, the Lapuaho family has come full circle. Rob now has the chance to watch his son complete the dream that was taken from him on the football field long ago.

"This is a great opportunity for my son to go to BYU and finish what I wasn't able to do because of the unfortunate circumstance of me getting hurt," said Rob. "This is just exciting for us. This is a chance for him to go and write his own story at BYU and finish up what I wasn't able to do."

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