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Originally published December 8, 2009 at 10:01 PM | Page modified December 9, 2009 at 12:16 AM

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Steve Kelley

Huskies' Trenton Tuiasosopo skips final game so he can be with father in hospital

Sina Tuiasosopo, the father of UW senior linebacker Trenton Tuiasosopo, is battling complications from colon cancer. He says, "I want everyone to know that my son is my hero."

Seattle Times staff columnist

In the early morning last Saturday, while his son slept in a chair in a hospital room at the University of Washington Medical Center, Sina Tuiasosopo walked across the room, brushed the hair back from Trenton Tuiasosopo's face and whispered, "You are my hero."

There are infinite ways for a son to show his love for his father. On the eve of his final college football game, Trenton chose to sacrifice the game that once had defined his life.

Trenton surrendered his last appearance as a Husky to be with his dad, who was suffering complications from colon cancer.

"I'm not going anywhere until you get out of here," he told his father.

During chemotherapy sessions, Sina had developed kidney problems. He underwent two operations after arriving at the hospital last Tuesday. There were concerns he wasn't going to make it through the weekend.

And on the eve of Trenton's final football game at the University of Washington, the linebacker decided it was more important for him to stay in the hospital and advocate for his father. He asked questions of the doctors so that he could better understand what he could do to help his dad.

"It was hard," Trenton said of his decision, "but when it comes down to priorities ... Don't know how long my old man's going to be around."

The same way an athlete prepares for a big game, Trenton Tuiasosopo scouted the cancer. He got as much information as he could, so he could help his father fight the disease and tolerate the chemo.

"Words can't even explain," Sina said, his voice cracking as he sat in his hospital room Tuesday morning. "They can't explain how I felt as I sat there and saw my son interacting with the doctors. The kind of questions he was asking them, the detail in his questions. It was very poignant for me. I thought, 'Man, that's my boy right there.'

"He was my mouthpiece to the doctors. He asked the questions I wanted asked. He got me answers. Watching him, I felt so comfortable and at peace. As I watched him I thought, 'My son, he's a man now.' "

Trenton had persevered through numerous setbacks during his career at Washington. Through the difficult times, when he could have quit, he found the resolve to continue and kept hoping he could be part of Washington's football rebirth.

He was given a medical redshirt in 2004 after missing all but two games. Then he missed the entire 2005 season after suffering a serious injury in a bicycle accident.

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He played in all 12 games of the winless season of 2008, then successfully petitioned the NCAA for a sixth season and played a backup role in this turnaround year.

But late last week, he went to linebackers coach Mike Cox and explained to Cox why he couldn't play in Saturday's season's finale against California.

"We were aware of the situation and wanted to support him any way we could," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "It's obviously a disappointing situation for him and his family.

"My initial thought was I wanted him to at least have the senior tribute and he notified me that he was able to do the senior tribute last year and he really just wanted to be with his dad and I respect that. He's a good young man."

Sina gave his son his blessing to play in the game, but Trenton told his father, "I'd rather be where my heart wants to be."

Sina said it was painful watching Trenton look out the hospital window early Saturday afternoon, seeing fans, wearing purple and gold, walking across the street and into the stadium.

"I've seen my son go through the roller coaster that is and has been the University of Washington football the last six years," Sina said. "Just watching him, knowing he had no intent to dress for the game hurt very much. It was his last game and he wasn't going to dress.

"But when my kidneys started giving me problems, that gave us quite a scare and that's when I saw it in Trenton's eyes that he wasn't going to be able to be on that field. He stayed with me the whole time. He really wanted to play. He wanted to be with his teammates, but he stayed right here with me."

Sina's condition improved enough that he was able to leave the hospital Tuesday night. He still has several rounds of chemotherapy to endure and a difficult battle ahead. But he sounds like a man at peace with his prospects.

This was a father who unambiguously understood the love his son felt for him.

"I want everyone to know," Sina said, "that my son is my hero."

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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