Former Oregon State linebacker, returned LDS missionary, dies of cancer

Published: Wednesday, April 24 2013 6:14 a.m. MDT

Many are mourning the loss of a former standout college football player, Mormon missionary, father and husband this week.

Tevita Moala, who played football at BYU and Oregon State, recently died at age 37 after a five-year battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife and six children.

"Everyone loved him. He was that person," his brother J.R. Moala told Tony Ciniglio of the Dailybreeze.com. "He had an effect on every single person he came into contact with. Everywhere he went, he made an impact. That's the way he was."

In Ciniglio's article, Moala was described as "The Tenacious Tongan" on the football field. In 1992, Moala played six games with a dislocated shoulder and inspired his high school team to win a state championship.

"His life should be a movie," former Hawthorne High football coach Dan Robbins told the Dailybreeze.com.

After high school, Moala saw action as a freshman strong safety at Brigham Young University. He played in three games before suffering a season-ending injury. Following his freshman year, Moala served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines.

He returned to the Cougars in the fall of 1997 before transferring to El Camino College in the spring of 1998.

A press release by Oregon State's Athletic Department indicated that Moala lettered as a linebacker for the Beavers from 1999-2000.

"He was an integral part of OSU’s 2000 Fiesta Bowl and 1999 Oahu Bowl teams," the release said. "His playing career was highlighted by a 24-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against California (Nov. 6, 1999) that clinched the Beavers’ first regular season winning record since 1970."

Moala was the oldest of nine children for his father, Talite Moala, and his mother, Toilose Moala. Five brothers played Division I football. The three sisters were all named homecoming queens.

Moala is survived by his wife, Maata, and his six children: Josh David, age 13; Marley, 11; Kalolaine, 9; Elisa, 6; La, 5; and Aitofi, 3, according to the Dailybreeze.com.

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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