Son Fulfills Mom's Dying Wish
The teams played two scoreless extra sessions, forcing the game to penalty kicks. Shootouts were not Leo's specialty, and Ching worried about what would happen if his star lost the game for the team and then found out his mom was in the hospital. Yet the coach had a feeling about Leo. He slotted him fourth out of five. Three rounds passed and nobody scored. It was Leo's turn. He punched his shot into the right side of the net. For the first time, Kalani had the lead. Punahou had one more shot. Kalani's goalie made the save. And that was it. Leo had led his school to its first-ever state soccer title, scoring all three goals. Emotions poured over the team. Many of the boys were crying. And then Leo's club coach, who was there to cheer on the team, heard from the hospital: things were looking bad. There might not be much time. The coach came over to Leo and told him: the ambulance was for your mom. Leo fell to his knees, dropped his plaque onto the ground, and cried. "It was one of the worst things in my life," Leo said. "So heartbreaking. Knowing your mom had a stroke and you couldn't do anything about it." Leo rode to the hospital and squeezed his mom's hand, and telling her over and over again how he loved her. She was already unconscious. Two days later, Hiroyo passed away. She elected to donate her organs, so five people will live because she lived. One of the last things she heard was her husband telling her Leo's team had won. Her wish to let him play was fulfilled. She smiled. "That's what she wanted," Leo says now. "She wanted us to have a state championship title. Giving her that final news, I think that was the best news of her life."
Leo Klink, 16, led Kalani to the state championship with 24 goals this season. (Courtesy of Klink family) It's been two weeks now since Leo lost his mom. He misses everything about her: the advice she gave, the times they spent talking about the game, the way her special salmon dish made the house smell. And of course, her smile. "I miss her love," he says. "I miss her existence. I miss her food." A Facebook page has been set up to raise money for Hiroyo's biggest dream for Leo: a college education. Things will be tougher now, since Paul can't work the way Hiroyo did, so there is concern. "No one can replace my mom," Leo says. "My dad is doing one half; I'm doing the other half." Leo isn't sure where he wants to go to school next year, but he wants to play soccer. "It's gonna be great when I start again," he says. "She'll be watching over me." A few days after his mom's passing, Leo went out with some friends who wanted to cheer him up. They went bowling. The group finished around midnight and got into the car. One of Leo's friends noticed a black moth flitting around. He told Leo about an old legend known to many in Hawaii. When a loved one passes, a black moth is sent to watch over those left behind. Leo listened to this and looked at the moth in awe and wonder. It was floating in the car, just over his head. Leo told the story of the black moth at his mom's funeral. It said everything about her, how she loved him and looked out for him even when she could no longer watch him – especially when she could no longer watch him. "It flew right above me," Leo says, "and stayed there." ____________________________________________ SOURCE: Award-winning writer Eric Adelson is a feature writer for Yahoo! Sports. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University's School of Journalism, Eric previously wrote for ESPN the Magazine and is the author of the book "The Sure Thing: The Making and Unmaking of Golf Phenom Michelle Wie."