HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some athletes are motivated by statistics, wins or hopes of a professional career.
But for Warrior John Fonoti, his inspiration on and off the field comes from the heart.
The picture Fonoti paints of himself is that of your typical college student.
"I was just kind of one of those kids, do whatever, come school, do school, then practice and go home," Fonoti said.
The situation off the football field has been anything but average for this senior defensive lineman.
17 years ago, Fonoti's mother was diagnosed with breast-cancer. after a lengthy battle with the disease, she was then diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005.
"It was kind of hard to look at her always struggling over there, always sleeping, always tired, always sick," he said. "She's going through chemotherapy right now. Her hair fell out. It's been a struggle for us lately."
The 2nd time around may have been the hardest. It happened just before Fonoti came to Manoa on scholarship.
During his freshman year, surrounded by college life and burdened by a tough reality at home, John's grades slipped.
That lead to him taking a red shirt year to get his academics and his mind back together. Since then, Fonoti says even injuries seemed small when he put his mothers struggles into perspective.
"I hyper extended my knee, I broke my fibula in high school," he said. "Going through all the stuff I've been going through, all the injuries, I look at it as though I'll fight through it. She did it. What she's going through is a lot worse than what I'm going through."
For all their struggles, John plans on repaying his mom with a college degree. He's set to graduate in May, becoming the first from his family to do so.