HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the basketball court, No. 23 for the Pearl City Chargers looks and plays just like any other player on the hardwood.
Malosi Viena, a junior forward, is a quiet kid with a big talent for hoops. So talented in fact, he’s currently ranked in the Top 20 for scorers in the OIA this season. He doesn’t brag, and he doesn’t boast. He couldn’t if he tried.
Accompanied by his interpreter Becky Ho’opili, Viena sat down with Hawaii News Now to tell his story about his life and the obstacles he has had to overcome.
“I was born deaf," Viena said via sign language. "When I was five days old, I had surgery on my heart and I was in the hospital for a time after that.”
The start of life was not easy for Malosi Viena. He was born with a heart condition that contributed to the loss of both his ears and his hearing.
He endured many surgeries as a child but eventually, through faith and family, he was able to make a full recovery. From that point on, he was just like any other kid growing up with a desire to play basketball.
“If you want to become competitive, you have to show them how you can do it," Viena said. "You can’t be afraid to try.”
An interpreter accompanies Viena to every game and practice, Pearl City head coach Lionel Villarmie has watched Viena blossom as a player.
He continues to be amazed at Viena’s talent and work ethic.
“He plays hard, you know,” Villarmie said. “He takes it in stride he never complains, he doesn’t complain about nothing; he just keeps working hard.”
Junior point guard Albert Perry and other teammates have gotten together to help better communicate with Malosi while on the court.
“I learned sign language," Perry said. "For certain plays and inbound plays I do certain hand motions so he understands.”
Malosi translated in Samoan means strength. And anyone who watches the Chargers play knows that No. 23 for Pearl City doesn’t just live up to the name he embodies it.