On Sundays of years past, the number on his Seahawks football jersey was 46 and he used to run over/around/or through his opponents on a football field, hugging a leather ball tight to his body as he struggled mightily to get into the end zone…Nowadays, on Sundays, this tall, handsome, still very athletic man moves more deliberately but with equal purpose and instead of a leather ball, he carried The Holy Book in his hands. Nowadays, he delivers sermons instead of touchdowns….
The David Hughes Story, from Football star to Ambassador of God…
David Hughes III was born in Kuakini Hospital , Honolulu but considers Kailua , Oahu his “hometown.” His Dad, David Hughes Jr. was a mixture of Hawaiian/Japanese/ Haole/Portuguese/Native American (Blackfoot) ethnicity while his Mom Dorothy Kim-Kruetter is Portuguese/Spanish. David was one of four siblings with sisters Debbie and Diane and brother Dean. David was only eleven when he lost his Dad to a heart attack so Mom Dorothy was the “guiding light” of his early life. David is very proud of his Hawaiian heritage and his favorite memories are about growing up in the “old Hawaiian way”….in a time when people were honest, polite, trusting and caring; when people like his beloved tutu (grandparents) David Hughes Sr and his wife “Toots” were having family gatherings at their Hauula beach house every weekend so the large Hughes Ohana could play and eat and laugh together….in a time when sharing time and love was such an important part of life! David still makes spreading Aloha a big part of his everyday life!
David went to Kamehameha, graduating in 1977. David was as “natural” athlete, earning varsity letters in football, basketball and track at Kamehameha. In 1977, David Hughes III was the State of Hawaii High School Football Player of the Year! David had several scholarship offers and chose the football scholarship from Boise State University in Idaho where he was to excel as a fullback for four years and is in their Football Hall of Fame. After graduating from Boise State , David and his wife Holly returned to Hawaii to await results of the 1981 National Football League draft. David had received letters of interest from most of the NFL teams and thought he should be picked before the 4 th round. He still was surprised when he got a 4:30am wakeup call from the Seattle Seahawks who drafted him early in the 2 nd round. After David made it through the final cuts at the Seahawks training camp, Holly and baby Lahela joined David in Seattle . Holly is definitely a “sun” person and it took her a long time to get enamored of Seattle ’s liquid sunshine weather. David had five good years as the Seahawks starting fullback but recurring ankle injuries made him expendable and he was released in 1986. He was picked up immediately by the Pittsburgh Steelers and had a great start there until a severe knee injury in his fifth game ended his professional football career.
He married the beautiful and compassionate Holly Haleamau (music artist Gary Haleamau is her cousin) while at Boise State. They’ve been together nearly thirty years now and have five keiki. Lahela, 24, is a missionary in Athens , Greece ; Kela 20, is working; Keoni is 18 and attending a bible college in Athens , near his sister Lahela; Kaniela 16, is at Eastlake HS while the youngest I`okepa 11, is in the 6 th grade.
David now works as a “Kahu” (Missions Pastor) for the Antioch Bible Church (a non-denomination church) in Redmond , WA . David is also a paid Assistant football coach at Eastlake High School in Sammamish. David loves the fact that in both his jobs, he gets to work with so many young people. I asked David about correlating his “love your neighbor” sermons with his “hit ‘em hard” coaching philosophies. David laughed warmly and said, “It’s a matter of values! Athletics are part of our American lifestyle. I believe a Coach, like a Pastor, is responsible for teaching the highest values…of sportsmanship, of team play, of doing your best in sports as in life!”
How did David evolve from football hero to Kahu? It was a process that in time involved many things but one incident that stands out happened in 1983, when David was vacationing on Maui . For many years, David had had recurring ankle problems which football team doctors/trainers could not fix so a friend recommended that David have his bad ankles treated by Kalua Kaiahua, a Napili, Maui man who was renowned for his special abilities, especially in lomi-lomi (Hawaiian massage.) While awaiting his turn for treatment, David was asked to help carry a man (who had trouble walking) into a room where Kalua treated the man while David watched; almost miraculously, the man recovered well enough to walk out on his own. It was obvious to David that Kalua’s treatments were spiritual as well as physical! Because both of David’s ankles were in casts, they could not be treated at that time. But on a return trip to Maui a few months later, Kalua treated David’s injured ankles and the pain disappeared. Kalua Kaiahua became David’s friend and mentor in many ways, opening the doors of faith in God for David.
Mahalo David Hughes ….keep spreading your special Aloha from the pulpit and on the playing field…..
To all: until we meet again, be kind to each other….me ke Aloha pumehana….Danny