HERRIMAN — Football stadiums always feel a little emptier during the off-season.
The field outside Herriman High School feels emptier than normal, but Celestia Muai had to come here.
“A lot of people loved my boy. He was a good boy,” said Muai.
The gridiron is where Muai says her son would have been a star.
She was looking forward to watching her son play football on Friday nights for Herriman High School. Instead, she’s planning his funeral.
“I’m doing OK, yeah. It comes and goes,” said Muai. “It’s tough.”
Tua Muai, 12, loved his family, his friends and his football teammates on his sixth-grade team.
“He talked about football all the time. He wanted to be a scientist after he played in the NFL,” said his mother. “He was a good boy. Very, very smart. Very talented.”
All that talent makes it harder knowing how he died.
Muai says her son was playing a dangerous game this past weekend with some friends at his South Jordan home called the “fainting game.”
It involves choking yourself or a friend to the point of passing out to give some type of rush. It cost Tua his life.
They’ve been through a death in the family before. Tua’s father died a year and a half ago, leaving Muai with eight children. Tua was the sixth of eight.
This death is also tough for the Herriman community. Tua’s football coach says this is the eighth death of a student in the area this school year.
“I just don’t want to see it again because this honestly stings,” said Bryan Ellison. “There is no manual on this. I wish there was. Tua was the greatest kid ever. We had a team meeting after we heard he died and the words that kept coming up to describe him were courageous and strong. He’s going to be missed.”
Tua’s mom is warning others so no other mothers get the phone call she did.
“Talk to your kids. Let them know this (game) is dangerous,” she said. “He would have been an amazing man. Yes, he was destined to change the world. And I think that he still will. Just in a different way.”
Tua’s funeral will take place on Wednesday, May 16, at 11 a.m., at the Rushton View First Ward, 3760 Rushton View Drive in South Jordan.
His mother requests that if your son or daughter plays or played football to wear their jersey to the service.
There is a fundraising page, if you want to help the family with expenses.
*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.