BYU running back Lopini Katoa playing for his mom, recovering from brain surgery

Sports

PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – With all the jubilant celebration at LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday night after the Cougars ended a nine-game losing streak to Utah, one BYU fan was able to rejoice from her hospital bed.

Angie Katoa, mother of BYU running back Lopini Katoa, had a brain tumor removed Friday night. But she was still able to see her son and her beloved Cougars beat their rivals.

“She was happy, obviously,” Katoa said. “She was in her hospital bed, but she was happy. She as able to watch the game in her room, so she enjoyed that. But she’s doing well. She’s recovering well from the surgery.”

About a month ago, Angie Katoa started feeling headaches, and an MRI revealed a benign tumor where the brain connects to the brainstem. Surgery was the only option to have it removed.

“It was scary,” Katoa said.

Angie didn’t want to miss any games of her son’s senior season. So her five children treated her to a weekend in Las Vegas to watch BYU beat Arizona, knowing that would be the only game she would be able to attend in person this season. Lopini, had “MOM” written on tape down both of his arms, and said he will be playing for her.

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall (3) hands off to running back Lopini Katoa during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Arizona on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

“It’s definitely helped motivate me, and keep my focused on my “Y,” you know, why I do the things that I do,” Katoa said. “It’s always been the reason, but it’s helped me to refocus on that and play with more passion.”

Katoa, an American Fork High School graduate, was able to celebrate the victory over Utah with his mom on Sunday from her hospital bed.

“I wasn’t able to see her through last week, midway through the week,” Katoa said. “So I got to spend the whole day with her and spend the night with her last night. So it was good to catch up.”

Many of Katoa’s BYU teammates showed up for a fundraiser thrown by his sister to help pay for medical costs. The Katoas raised over $8,000, some of which came from the BYU players themselves.

“To see how my teammates responded was really special to me,” Katoa said. “To see how much they reached out, donated their personal money to help her out with all the bills and hospital things that we’re going to deal with. Then they also showed up to the event and showed their love, it definitely helped my mom and the mental side of her surgery. Just feeling loved and supported through the whole thing.”

Angie will watch BYU’s next game against Arizona State Saturday night.

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