Kauai High Red Raiders honor life of former athlete by retiring jersey 64

(Image: Kauai County)
(Image: Kauai County)

LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Throughout space and time, the number 64 has taken on many forms.

Sixty-four is the square root of eight and the number of squares on a chess board. In 1967, the number also became the subject of the Beatle's track, "When I'm 64."

But for everyone who knew Michael Julian, 64 was the number on his football jersey.

After a special ceremony held Saturday, there will be no other 64 on the Kauai High School football team – that's because the Red Raiders retired the digits once donned by Julian.

"Everybody, this whole island knows him, everybody knew who he was from high school, everyone knew number 64," said Julian's younger brother, Dustin.

On the night of June 24, 2017, Julian fell ill while in his family's home in Puhi. He was short of breath, and with no time to wait for an ambulance, Dustin took it upon himself to drive his brother to a nearby hospital.

"Maybe after like a minute after we left our house, I had to pull over and started doing CPR because he just stopped breathing," Dustin said.

Julian died three days later at the age of 27. He was known to have food allergies, but his exact cause of death is unknown as the family awaits autopsy results.

Fondly remembered as "Big Mike," Julian was not only big in stature, but also accomplishments.

The 2008 graduate was a class valedictorian and maintained a 4.023 grade point average as a dual sport athlete. Julian played on both sides of the turf as an offensive and defensive lineman. In the off season, he played left and right field on his school's baseball team.

After graduating from high school Julian attended Northern Arizona University where he pursued a degree in biology and chemistry. Family and friends say his dream was to find a cure for cancer.

Upon graduating from NAU in 2012, Julian returned to Kauai and worked as a pharmacy technician at Wilcox Inpatient Pharmacy.

On Saturday, about 100 of Julian's friends and family members watched from the stands of Vidinha Stadium as the cheerleaders of Kauai High School presented Julian's parents with a framed, now retired, number 64 jersey.

"He'd be so happy, because that's his number," said close friend Jamilee Jimenez. "His whole family is so happy."

A few months back, Jimenez approached Derek Borrero, head coach of Kauai High's varsity football team, with the idea of retiring Julian's football number and Borrero honored the idea with no objections.

"I texted Coach Borrero and he was like, 'I think it's a fabulous idea,'" Jimenez recalls. "I got in touch with the athletic director, and he was like 'I think it's a great idea!' A few kids from student council even talked to the principal and she (got) excited too and cried."

Kauai mayor Bernard Carvalho presented a proclamation to the Julian family during the game which reads in part:

"We pay tribute to his life, as his football jersey number 64 is retired for he will be remembered by his friends and family for being thoughtful, humble, genuine, instrumental, compassionate, selfless, delightful and courteous."

And though humbled by the many kind words of the community, when asked to describe his brother in three words, Dustin said, "Best brother ever."

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