Foster parents abuse siblings. Football player returns home from college and adopts his siblings

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It was 2012 when Keoni Bush-Loo first set foot on the University of Arizona campus. An incoming freshman, Bush-Loo was one of the newest members of the Arizona Wildcats football team. This new linebacker quickly became one of the most popular members of the team and a valuable asset on the field.

On Saturday, September 19, 2016, the Wildcats competed against the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. As the teams lined up, Hawaii defensive end Makani Kema-Kaleiwahea faced down many familiar faces.

On the opposite side of the line were friends and team mates from when he was a Wildcat. From when he called himself Keoni Bush-Loo.

In 2014, just two years into his time at Arizona University and shortly after marrying his girlfriend, Brianna Summers, Makani was forced to put his career on hold.

After learning that five of his siblings were being abused by the foster parents who raised him, Makani reported them, leading to their arrest. Worried about what would happen if his siblings were forced back into the foster system, he did his best to ensure that it was something they would never have to face again.

At just 18-years-old, Makani and his new wife adopted his two youngest brothers—now their sons.

With the help of the Casey Family Programs, a national foundation focused on foster care and child welfare, he also tracked down extended relatives of the other three siblings who were willing to adopt them.

College football:  UNLV at Hawaii

Since then Makani has changed his name, returning to his birth name, and moved back to Honolulu where he attends school and plays for the Rainbow Warriors while raising his two sons.

In an interview with the Arizona Daily Star, Makani said “Being a parent is stressful. Being back home [in Honolulu] made it so much easier. It set my kids up for success. It set myself up for success, and my wife as well.”

His sons and wife are what have kept him going, even when things were difficult. “They’re the reason why I get to do what I do every day,” Makani said. “I’m so thankful for them.”

September’s game was extremely emotional for Makani. It was his first time returning to his old home since leaving to take care of his sons.

Despite playing for a new team, the Wildcats still considered Makani a lifelong brother. Before the game, linebacker Cody Ippolito spoke about his former teammate, “The stuff he’s been through with his family, off the field, the kid is a man and I respect him to death.”

The whole Wildcat team welcomed Makani with open arms, “Just because he’s somewhere else playing against us, it doesn’t really matter.”

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Despite a hard fought match on the part of the Warriors, the Wildcats stole the win 47-28. Despite this definitive defeat, the score was not the important takeaway from September’s game for Makani.

In 2014, Makani left the University of Arizona a boy. In 2016, he returned. A man. A father. A warrior.

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