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University of Montana football player impacted by Maui wildfires

Matai Mata'afa
Posted at 2:07 PM, Aug 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-15 16:07:34-04

MISSOULA — Matai Mata’afa is a defensive lineman who recently transferred to the University of Montana from Mississippi State.

During the middle of the camp, he received a call that the wildfires in Maui had destroyed his hometown and childhood home.

“It's been rough man. My family’s back home. We lost our house. We lost everything," Mata’afa told MTN News.

His brother Hercules — who played football at Washington State and for the Minnesota Vikings — helped safely evacuate his parents and his dog before it was too late.
Mata’afa described the scene of his hometown his brother described to him.

“When they went back to my house it was a sad sight. They passed by a dead body on the road just a couple of yards away from my house," Mata’afa said. "When they got there, my two cats — they were dead underneath my dad's banana trees. And it’s just a horrific sight. You know I never thought anything like this could happen to Lahaina.”

Although Mata’afa is new to the Grizzlies, his teammates and coaches have been supportive of him and his family.

He may be going through a rough time but that hasn’t stopped his competitive drive.

“No sympathy for me. I want to get better so I told the guys not to take it easy on me because of this," Mata’afa said. "You know if they can crack me, crack me but I want to get better I want us to do good this season.”

You can donate to the Mata’afa family here.