PREVIEW: Conference doc ‘Redeemed: The Sione Havili Story’
SALT LAKE CITY — Playing in the NFL — it’s what dreams are made of.
When Sione Havili was in high school, he had set his sights on making it a reality.
His father had always pushed him to play hard, and he had the talent to become great.
In 1998, Havili was considered one of the best high school football players in the state of Utah.
Former University of Utah coach Ron McBride remembers him well, “He was one of those guys that caught my eye early. He was in my camps from the very beginning, and so I loved his athleticism and his toughness.”
He was heavily recruited by major universities throughout the country and had offers from many of the big name schools.
As a life-long Cougar fan, when it came time to decide where he would play, he chose Brigham Young University.
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake knew him then, too.
“I knew him when he was young and saw that there was something exceptional about him, with his speed and athleticism. That combination of raw power was going to be something very special,” said Sitake.
Havili signed his letter of intent with BYU and then chose to defer his enrollment to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He put his mission papers in and was called to New York City. But just prior to leaving on his mission, a close friend’s house was the target of a drive-by gang shooting.
It was part of a rivalry that had been going on for a very long time.
At 19y/o, Sione Havili was a @BYU scholarship athlete with his sights on the NFL, until 1 night, when he found himself in a van with others bound on getting revenge.
Tonight @ 6:30p, we have a first look at this story of redemption.
— KSL 5 TV (@KSL5TV) September 28, 2021
Havili witnessed the fear and anxiety in his friend’s family, and before 19-year-old Sione was able to process the implications of what might happen, he joined five friends in a van, bound on getting revenge.
With two one-gallon containers of gas and rags for fuse, they firebombed the rival’s house, burning it to the ground.
No one was home at the time and there were no witnesses to the crime.
Without disclosing his involvement, shortly thereafter, Havili left to serve his mission.
After a time, justice caught up to him, and he was returned home to pay the price for his crime.
That fateful night in his neighborhood changed everything.
He spent time in prison, his scholarship was taken from him, his hope for an NFL career was gone, and all seemed lost to him. But what happened afterwards is a story of redemption. A journey that proves someone once broken can be redeemed.
To hear more about this story and see what happened to Havili, watch “REDEEMED: The Sione Havili Story” on KSL-TV, or on the KSL-TV app, on Saturday Oct. 2nd at noon.
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