When Lakei left his Quarterback Hanging

October 5, 2017 — Today’s story courtesy of Geep Chryst

On the 26th of June my mother and I were dropping my little brother off for his freshman year at college and by little, I mean younger. My brother Houston is built a lot like our dad; big calves, big thighs, strong and quick.. the prototypical fullback. That’s why when he got a scholarship to play for the Stanford Cardinal, we weren’t surprised — he follows in my father’s footsteps. My dad, Lakei Heimuli, was a tough-as-nails kid from the island nation of Tonga. He could go toe-to-toe with neighborhood boys much older than him and had a reputation of breaking their noses. It wasn’t until moving to Hawaii that my dad put his wild energy to good use, learning about the greatest sport ever played. Dad was a natural. Growing up playing rugby, he learned to run through arm tackles was fearless going head up against linemen much bigger than him. That is why Brigham Young University offered my pops a scholarship only a couple years after he discovered the game. After winning a National Championship in 1984, the Chicago Bears drafted him in ’87. This is where the actual story begins, but here’s some background...

So back in Palo Alto, my mother and I were invited to the beautiful home of Stanford’s starting QB Keller Chryst, by his parents Geep and Shelley for a freshman parents meet & greet with drinks and dessert, while my brother and the rest of the freshman were doing some sort of orientation. We walked up to the front door and Geep answered the door with a smile on his face, a beer in one hand and in his deep, booming voice, “You must be the Heimuli’s!”

Lakei Heimuli at 22 years old playing for the Chicago Bears in 1987.

Typically, when someone says our name correctly when they meet us for the very first time, they are either from an island as equally small as ours or they have heard our last name before. Geep obviously had heard our names before, as he closed the front door behind him “..have I got a story about your dad!” We introduced ourselves with hugs and flipped on my recorded for Geep to tell his story:

So back in the day, the Chicago Bears trained at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville where Geep’s father George was Head football coach and Athletic Director. Every year the rookies either had to sing their school fight song, or be a part of the talent show — that season’s talent show was sponsored by United Airlines and the winner of the rookie talent show would win two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the United States. Lakei and the other rookies were paired up, my dad partnered up with James, a california kid who played at Michigan. James came up with the idea to do a Blues-brother routine singing I’m a Soul man. Unfortunately, as everyone would soon discover, speaking in public is my father’s nightmare.. forget about singing.

The music in the auditorium starts, players and staff start clapping and the California kid rolls out onto the stage dancing and looks off to the stage… no Lakei. Lakei had no interest in that, he was a ghost. James tries to call an audible, and turn it into a sort of Blues brother routine but it didn’t work. Unfortunately, he did not win tickets. But you know.. if only he’d known that Lakei Heimuli was so shy, Jim Harbaugh — the Michigan quarterback from Palo Alto High School probably wouldn’t have let himself be left hanging on stage during the NFL rookie talent show.