Former Delta College student and football standout Sam Mafi died on Oct. 9 due to heart transplant complications.
“I think he was waiting for my mom and dad to come to the hospital and I think he was ready,” said Elenor Mafi, Sam’s sister and a former member of The Collegian staff.
Sam Mafi had developed his heart condition not long after transferring from Delta to Utah State University, where he grew sick.
Elenor theorizes that event kicked off his heart problems.
“I think the weather changed. He was going from California to Utah, which is really cold. We’re not sure if it was pneumonia or something, but that’s how his heart got affected,” said Elenor.
A major part of Mafi’s life was football, which he began playing when he young.
“Football was literally Sam’s whole live. He grew up with Football, playing in little league… until he stopped, until he was told that he couldn’t play anymore. That broke his heart but he passed it onto these little kids and especially his little brother,” said Elenor.
The growing heart problems forced Mafi to shelf his passion for football as it was no longer safe for him to play.
Mafi’s first heart transplant would take place Oct. 4, 2014.
Despite his heart problems, Mafi kept his passion for football alive.
While his growing health problems forced him to take a knee as a player on the field, he took up the mantle of a coach on the sidelines.
He began his new path with the San Joaquin Jr. Rams, this developed into him becoming a staff member at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, coaching the freshman team. Mafi had played for the Rams.
“Oh he loved it [coaching], I can show you all the social media posts that they’re posting about him is … amazing. I think he literally touched a lot of people,” said Elenor.
The challenges Mafi faced throughout his life helped solidify in the minds of his family he had a purpose and he was dedicated whether he knew it or not.
“I think his purpose was just to enjoy life and not to take it for granted. I think he was very grateful that the lord gave him the second chance with his new heart. He definitely told the kids not to give up on what you [they] do, and he inspired so many kids… Just live life, don’t take it for granted and be grateful,” said Elenor.
The Mafi family hopes to develop a sports scholarship in his name.
“We’re trying to get funeral situated and then we’ll go into it. It will probably be a scholarship. That will kinda be at St. Mary’s, for sure at St. Mary’s,” said Elenor.