Vince Manuwai has died at the age of 38. Family members confirmed the sudden death to local news outlets in his home state of Hawaii.
Manuwai was well-known as a former football star at the University of Hawaii. He entered the NFL draft in 2003 and was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played there for 8 seasons before being cut in 2011.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Manuwai Reportedly Collapsed at His Home in Hawaii & The Cause of Death Was Not Immediately Released
Vince Manuwai was pronounced dead on Sunday, November 4, 2018. A family spokesperson told the Honolulu Star Advertiser newspaper that Manuwai had been in the process of moving into a new apartment in Kakaako, a neighborhood in south Honolulu. He reportedly collapsed while moving his belongings sometime during the morning.
Lynn Kawano of Hawaii News Now reported that Manuwai was unconscious when emergency responders arrived. He was reportedly taken to the nearby Straub Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Kawano shared in her tweet that police are investigating, but do not suspect foul play.
2. Manuwai’s Health Was an Issue Toward the End of His NFL Career
Vince Manuwai was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft. The guard wasted no time in making an impact on the team. According to NFL.com, Manuwai started 105 games over eight seasons in Florida. He played just one game in 2008 due to injuring his ACL and had to focus on rebuilding his strength during the 2009 season.
In 2010, Manuwai’s job was in jeopardy for health reasons. The Jaguars were concerned about his weight, according to Jacksonville.com. The team asked Manuwai to lose 15 pounds during the off-season. He accomplished this feat, going from 340 to 323 pounds before camp started.
But before the start of the 2011 season, Manuwai’s weight was an issue again. He arrived at training camp weighing 344 pounds. He was also nursing a torn tendon in his left ankle. Manuwai told NFL.com at the time that he had also been having “personal issues.”
The Jaguars cut Manuwai from the team. He was picked up by the Atlanta Falcons in March of 2012, but was released before the start of the season.
3. Vince Manuwai Spent His Childhood in Hawaii & Was Raising His Own Children There
Vince Manuwai spent much of his childhood in a public housing project in Honolulu. The Florida Times-Union reported in a 2010 profile that Manuwai was the oldest of seven siblings and that his stepfather was in the military. The family moved to Virginia when Manuwai was 11. But after two years on the east coast, he begged his mother to allow to him to go home to Hawaii; she agreed, and he was raised by his uncle after that.
Manuwai began playing football as a high school student. The University of Hawaii offered him a scholarship to play football, but his academics nearly cost Manuwai his spot on the team. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported in 2001 that during Manuwai’s freshman year, he had a 1.2 grade-point average. He was put on academic probation. This reportedly inspired Manuwai to step it up, because he made it onto the honor roll with a 3.0 grade-point average going forward.
After college, Manuwai was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars. But he liked to return to Hawaii during the off-season and his family has reportedly lived there full-time since his NFL career ended. Local news outlets reported at his death that Manuwai was survived by six children but none mentioned his wife.
4. Vince Manuwai Wanted to Give Back to His Community By Creating an Institute That Aimed to Help People Find Jobs
Vince Manuwai previously ran a non-profit corporation in his home state of Hawaii. The Vince Manuwai Institute was headquartered in Waipahu, Hawaii. It was registered as a non-profit on November 15, 2013.
According to its Facebook page, the Institute was committed to trying to help people find jobs. The mission was laid out as such: “VMI Hawaii has been established with the goal to create as many employment pathways as possible. The way it does this is by partnering up with businesses to create learning opportunities for individuals to learn and gain highly employable skills. To date we have employment pathways in the culinary fields, event management, textile arts, and recreation. We also specialize in increasing the digital literacy of individuals.”
The Institute appears to have been operational for about one year. The business is currently listed as “inactive” and the website is not active. The last time the organization shared a Facebook post was in November of 2014.
5. Friends & Fans Remembered Vince Manuwai as a ‘Phenomenal Talent’ & One of the Best to Ever Play at University of Hawaii
Friends and fans took to social media as news spread of Vince Manuwai’s sudden death at the age of 38. Many recalled his years as a star offensive lineman during his college years.
Former University of Hawaii assistant coach Rich Miano spoke with the Honolulu Star Advertiser. He said Manuwai’s death was a “shame” and that it was a “sad day for everyone affiliated with Hawaii football who knew Vince Manuwai.” He described the former offensive lineman as a “phenomenal talent.”
Friend Rob DeMello wrote, “This man showed me so much #ALOHA over the years. So grateful for his friendship. Much love Vince. #RIP #VinceManuwai”
Sports columnist for the Star Advertiser, Dave Reardon, wrote described Manuwai as “one of the best offensive linemen to ever play #hawaiifb and a key to the Warriors success in the early ’00s…”
President of the Hawaii Foodbank, Ron Mizutani, wrote, “Vince Manuwai was a beast on the field and a true gentleman off the field. Saddened beyond words to learn of his passing.”