Updated: Apr 13, 2021
Over the years we have seen an amazing development of younger and younger talent across our great nations High School programs. This story will involve a young man, his family’s story along with his coaches and academic influencers. I chose this story not because it was yet another young man who has amazing God-given talent but how his true family surrounding him has been there with him on his journey and has helped to mold this young man as he prepares for whatever life brings his way. Full transparency, I have not met Kekahi nor his family.
I have relied on their own words (as you will read) to help tell a story about a young man’s journey that is also located on one of the most isolated islands on the planet. In addition to his family's comments, we were also very fortunate to get the comments of Kekahi’s high school coach and the dean from Saint Louis School in Hawaii.
A child’s dream to one day be on that stage of stage and compete at the highest levels begins at a very early age. For most, you would go through organized sports like Pop Warner as I once did. But for many, they have that special inside coach as a trusted advisor. That parent that not only sees the potential of their child but has the tools and care to nurture their son or daughter to achieve their dreams while also being a fine young member of society. Reading through the stories of other’s and of course, Kekahi's own words you will see why I chose to publish this young man’s story and hopefully make others aware (USC and Texas are) and spend the time to watch his film and force themselves to travel to the islands to see for themselves.
Ok, so you ask yourself, why is Steve suddenly turning to help tell a story on someone he has no connection to? USC24x7 has always been a place where I can exercise my true love for college football and all that it has to offer and also portray the journey to the big stage. This story will be a framework for future stories I want to bring to all of you. For those in Hawaii they will recognize Kekahi Graham and for those not blessed with living on our treasured islands well please enjoy his journey and if you are a college football coach or scout you will have plenty of information to learn more about the journey and thus the character of a young up and coming person and athlete.
The Journey Begins for Mom & Dad
Growing up in Hawaii Kekahi loved playing outdoors and sports activities. Kahi’s first sport
that he fell in love with (at the age of 5) was soccer which he still plays today on his high school varsity team. As a varsity football coach at my high school alma mater (Farrington high school) Kahi was automatically thrown into the football arena where he was constantly on the sidelines, at practice, and watching game films. He also served as the water boy. So, when Kekahi was old enough to play flag football (age 6) he picked up the game really fast and excelled very quickly in the game.
The funny thing about it was that Kekahi initially wanted to play on the defensive side of the game as a free safety. (As that’s where I played in high school and in college at the University of Hawaii). So, it was inevitable that I would be Kekahi’s flag football coach. With his mindset as a free safety, I then told Kahi that: “if you want to be a good free safety, you need to learn how to play quarterback”. For the obvious reasons, I told him “to beat a quarterback you have to think like a quarterback”.
As a result, because of his upbringing, Kekahi’s football IQ was ahead of most kids his age, and he excelled at the quarterback position. At a very young age, Kahi was exposed to a lot of competition. At the age of eight, Kekahi’s flag football team played in national tournaments in Vegas where he would lead his team to the semifinals. By the time he was old enough to play tackle football (12), he quickly excelled there as well leading his Metro team (Big boy league with no weight limit) to two championships.
Kekahi's Own Words
"One of my greatest accomplishments in my football career thus far was getting into Saint Louis School and earning the starting QB position as a 7th and 8th grader on the intermediate football team where we went back to back with undefeated seasons (something that hasn't been accomplished in the past 15 years at Saint Louis). Following that year, I was invited and played at the University of Southern California (USC) high school varsity football 7on7 tournament. Whereas the starting QB, I lead my team to the championship and winning the tournament. I was later invited to play in the pro football Hall of Fame all-American eighth grade team in Canton, Ohio. After the game, I was named offensive player of the game. I was since been ranked eighth in the country on the quarterback Hitlist a dual-threat quarterback c/o 2023
After having a blessed year I suffered (2) collapse lungs, where I was hospitalized for one month on a ventilator to help me breathe. During this time, I was unable to work out or participate in any activities at school. I have since recovered and started training harder using the situation as motivation to prepare for the varsity as a freshman. As a freshman on the varsity team, I was able to play sparingly but got lots of reps at practice and played on a team that won (4) previous state championship (2016-2019) and finished the season ranked 6th in the nation (2019).
The following year COVID -19 occurred and Hawaii’s football season was canceled. Still trying to stay in football shape and perfecting my craft as a quarterback, I continued to train with my dad (who is also a LB Coach on the varsity football team) and do what I could to stay in shape (running the beach, hills, throwing the ball with my receivers, lifting weights and watching game film) during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, my dad and I found ways to help augment my QB technique to help increase my explosion in my throws by taking up Muay Thai (sometimes referred to as "Thai boxing", is a martial art and combat sport that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques.) this I’ve found helped to get my hips more explosive which helps me have a quicker release on the football.
During this pandemic, my family and I also took up golfing which also helps my hips to be more explosive. As a result, I have since joined my high school golf team where I won my first golf match on the junior varsity team shooting a 43 on the front nine. Heading into my junior year (2021) I will be competing for the starting quarterback position Saint Louis School. Like my brothers before me: Tua Tagovailoa, Marcus Mariota, Timmy Chang, Jason Gesser I would love to extend my football career and play on the D-1 level and compete in the PAC-12 or SEC conference.
I have played sports my whole life, hasn't been a year that I can remember that I didnʻt compete in some type of sport season. Ranging from playing football, soccer, track, and just recently golf. The game of football has taught me so many life lessons and has truly shaped me into the person I am. It has always been a dream of mine to play collegiate D1 football. I always pride myself on working hard, and I want to keep improving myself in order to get the opportunity to play collegiate football. I want to compete with the best of the best on the football field and get a great education while doing so.
Teamwork is a prime aspect of many things throughout life, but especially while playing football. As a team, some days are better than others, but during the hard days is when I feel as we need to especially work harder together. I work with my teammates by putting the team first, I will do whatever it takes in order for our team to have success. One thing I pride myself highly on doing is putting the teamʻs success over my own. By having a team-first mentality, I hope to set good examples for my teammates. I bond with my team by always supporting each and every one of them, letting my teammates know that they are valued will give them the boost of confidence that they may be needing and bring more energy and intensity to the game.
I have been so blessed to be surrounded by amazing people my whole life. If I had to pick the
person/people who influenced me the most, it would be my parents. My mom and dad are the people that I can always count on, that always push me, and never leave my side. I can think of the countless times where they both pushed me to my limits, and looking back on it and thinking how great of parents they are for wanting nothing but the best for me. My parents have made so many sacrifices for me to get many opportunities, I would not be where I am today without them. They have taught me to be resilient, patient, and hard-working. My parents are my reasonʻs for why I play this game, why I push myself to be the best that I possibly can be. Both of my parents are truly the greatest influence, and I owe them the success I make throughout my life
High School Coach Vince Passas
Coach Vinny Passas is the premier quarterback mentor and coach in the country. He has an unrivaled record of success teaching, preparing, and grooming young quarterbacks to succeed at the highest levels of football.
Marcus Mariota | Tua Tagovailoa | Timmy Chang | McKenzie Milton | Jeremiah Masoli
Jason Gesser | Jordan Ta'amu | Chevan Cordeiro | Dillon Gabriel
"I am writing this letter of recommendation on behalf of Kahi Graham. I have had the privilege of working with Kahi for the past five years as his quarterback coach at St. Louis School in Honolulu, Hawaii, which has given me the incredible opportunity to witness first-hand his exceptional talent.
Kahi is an amazing athlete, who processes information well, a quick learner with an amazing work ethic, just a natural-born leader. He is the first on the field at practice and the last to leave. I truly believe he is the next Tua Tagovailoa, not only as a dual-threat quarterback but with his pocket presence and scrambling ability to complement his accuracy in his passing game. His self-motivation and tenacity allowed him to play Varsity in his Freshman and Sophomore years because of his heart desiring more and his self-discipline to work for it.
I believe Kahi has so much upside potential to display his skill as a quarterback. He will be an asset to any college and any team fortunate to have him.
His effort and determination to get better every day are invaluable. He is without a doubt, one of the most popular and charismatic players that I have had the opportunity to coach. He has matured into an incredible young man, a fierce competitor with nothing but a bright future ahead of him.
Another rare and priceless quality of Kahi is his ability to encourage those around him. He has an unquenchable thirst to improve himself, while tactfully and positively inspiring others. This unselfish and humble attribute is one of the highest qualities of character.
Kahi’s commitment to his family, to his school, to his teammates, to his friends and to the game of football is unwavering. It has been an honor to be a part of his journey as his coach. I cannot wait to see what he accomplishes in the future.
Coach Vince Passas St. Louis School in Honolulu, Hawaii
Naiona K. Campbell - Dean of Students
Kahi, as an athlete, is one of those “generational athletes”. What’s unique about him is his ability to sustain success and his continued efforts in doing so. Kahi is consistently attempting and challenging himself to be the best whether it be numerically or a representation of himself, his standards are set to be the top of his class. Most student-athletes talk about being the best, he shows it and rarely takes acknowledgment for his accolades. I don’t see that as being coy but more so a programmed behavior that doesn’t allow complacency. Very similar to a young Tiger Woods. As a young man, Kahi operates on integrity and finding growth in adversity. He does the right thing when no one is watching and learns from his mistakes. Those traits, alone, will likely be the reason for his success on and off the field for the rest of his life. Thank you,
Nainoa K. Campbell
05 M.Ed Dean of Students
9-12 Varsity Football
Saint Louis School
3142 Waiʻalae AvenueHonolulu, Hawaiʻi 96816
Summary of the Journey
As I opened the story of Kahi Graham I stated that I have never had the chance to actually meet him or watch him play. The gift of the internet and of course the technology for video capture and film studying has allowed me to really see the talent and the human value that Kahi has been walking that path in life that can take a young person in many directions. I sense from reading and watching Kahi that this young man and family will have an exciting journey from Hawaii to the mainland.
I want to thank all who contributed to this story with special thanks to Coach Vince Passas and Nainoa K. Campbell (Dean of Students) for taking the time to tell their story they experienced with Kahi. Lastly, as a parent of three amazing kids, I know how hard it is to watch a child go through all that life can throw at them. Kahi is blessed with two amazing people who are committed to providing him a wonderful path on whatever journey he chooses.
Video Story of Kahi’s Journey
Kahi's Gallery of The Journey
Kahi's Visits The Campus of The University of Southern California
Working The Timing - Eyes and Feet