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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Maloof brothers' generosity booster shot for UH football

Photo galleryPhoto gallery: University of Hawaii football fans
Photo galleryPhoto gallery: UH football practice
Video: Warriors' defense ready for UW

By Stephen Tsai
HawaiiWarriorBeat.Com Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Defensive tackle Michael Lafaele autographs a helmet for 8-year-old Ethan Lujan after practice.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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UH VS. WASHINGTON

6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aloha Stadium

Sold out, TV: ESPN2. Radio: 1420 AM

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The Maloof brothers Joe and Gavin own the Sacramento Kings.

They developed the Palms Casino Resort, known as the "playground for celebrities," where MTV's "Real World Las Vegas" and Bravo's "Celebrity Poker Showdown" were shot.

But Joe Maloof said one of the best times he had this year was attending a University of Hawai'i football game.

"June Jones' team is such fun to watch," Maloof said. "I've never had so much fun."

The brothers are putting their money where their heart is. Last month, they donated $50,000 to Na Koa, the football program's booster club, to double the Warriors' annual recruiting budget.

They also wrote a $25,000 check to the June Jones Foundation.

And now, the brothers will establish a scholarship in Jones' name. Joe Maloof said the scholarship, valued at about $15,000 annually, will go to a player who has completed his NCAA eligibility but "still has more school left. We'll pay for the extra year."

Joe Maloof, who played football for New Mexico, pays for a scholarship at his alma mater in the name of a former Lobo teammate. "I wanted to do the same thing for June Jones," Maloof said. "He's a class act."

The Maloof brothers and Kevin Kaplan, executive director of the June Jones Foundation, have been long-time friends. In September, Kaplan invited the brothers to attend the Warriors' practice on the eve of their road game against Nevada-Las Vegas.

"We went with Kevin to practice, and we had an opportunity to meet June," Maloof said. "In two minutes, I got captivated by his personality. He's so down to earth, unpretentious, a gentleman. He acted like he knew me for 10 years. He acted like he knew my brother."

During the conversation, Jones told them his recruiting budget was about $50,000.

"I couldn't believe what I heard," Maloof said. "I couldn't believe he built this kind of team I guess you can call it a dynasty with the type of budget that he has."

The brothers also were introduced to UH quarterback Colt Brennan. "What a gentleman he is," Maloof said. "Then Gavin and I went back to the hotel. I told Kevin, 'We've got to do something for June Jones and his program.' And that's how it all started."

First, they matched the recruiting budget. Then they made the donation to the non-profit foundation, which benefits several charities.

Maloof said he wants the scholarship recipient to "exhibit the spirit that June Jones has. It's the least we could do after all of the things he brought to University of Hawai'i football."

KELLY VOWS TO KICK

UH kicker Dan Kelly was on crutches and wearing a brace on his right ankle during yesterday's practice. But he insisted he will practice today and be ready for Saturday's game against Washington.

There is a "lot of discoloration, a lot of swelling, but I've been going to therapy twice a day," Kelly said. "Nothing is broken. Nothing is torn. I'll still be able to sustain all of the pressure and all of the stuff. It's a matter of getting the swelling down."

Kelly said he suffered the condition on the failed point-after attempt in the first quarter of last week's game against Boise State.

"Some guy rolled on top of my (right) foot, and I got pushed away from him, and it kind of pulled my whole foot," Kelly said. "I'll be back. It won't be a problem. I kicked with it the rest of the game."

He said he has "tweaked" his right ankle a few times this season. "It's a little more serious this time," he said, noting the brace and crutches are "precautionary (measures) so I don't do anything stupid. It reminds me not to run."

MAKA BACK PRACTICING

Francis Maka, who has missed the past three game because of a fractured left fibula, received medical clearance and practiced yesterday.

"I still have four more days to get over the discomfort," Maka said. "There's a little bit of pain."

Before suffering the injury, Maka was a pass-rusher in three defensive schemes. He also is one of the Warriors' best special-team members.

NEWS AND NOTES

  • Strong safety Jake Patek did not practice because of a "tweaked" right ankle. Patek said he was trying to tackle running back Ian Johnson when a Boise player stepped on his right foot. "It felt pretty bad," Patek said. "I believe in the Lord, and I'll be restored fully."

  • The defense received a boost when running back Leon Wright-Jackson practiced with the scout-team offense. None of the usual scout running backs is as big or fast as Washington's 6-foot, 205-pound Louis Rankin. Wright-Jackson is 6-1 and 211. "He gave us a great look," defensive coordinator Greg McMackin said. "We needed that. This guy is the best back we've faced."

  • Nothing induces winces like watching linebacker Adam Leonard try to sign autographs. Leonard wears a cast on his fractured right hand. "I try my best," he said.

    Leonard is used to overcoming injuries. When he was 7, he played despite a broken finger.

    "It was a pinky finger," he said. "You don't need one."

    His mother, Lila Leonard, said: "I think it would have hurt him more if he didn't play."

    Leonard said: "When I was young, I didn't want anything to stop me. Kids play through anything. They can run around all day no matter what's wrong with them. I was a tough kid."

  • The WAC reprimanded slotback Davone Bess for taunting Nevada fans after a road game two weeks ago. Bess issued a public apology.

    Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.