BOISE, Idaho (CBS2) — While his family lost their homes and more in the Maui wildfires, a Boise State football player is just happy that his family escaped alive.
Kaonohi Kaniho is a redshirt junior corner at Boise State. Kaniho grew up in Oahu, but his family has extensive routes to Lahaina, which saw the most destructive blaze of the fires that killed more than 100 people on Maui. Luckily, everyone in his family escaped the blaze, but several lost their properties in Lahaina.
"I would say, at least 40," Kaniho said when asked how many in his family lost their homes. "It was a bunch of family."
Kaniho spoke on the destruction his family personally witnessed.
"My family actually lost their houses, and cars, and everything they had," Kaniho said. "They're staying with one of my uncles on the other side of the island right now. I mean, they're blessed still. They're always texting us that they love us and that they're so thankful for us just because they didn't think they were going to make it out, so it really opened their eyes to life and the quality of life that we have."
While he was upset at the loss of property and homes for so many in his family, he emphasized that the most important thing was his family making it out alive. His family is recovering, and they're working to help other families that weren't as fortunate.
"It's unfortunate but we're blessed to have our family still alive, and we're helping out with the guys that lost family members too," Kaniho said.
Kaniho's family extends across multiple islands in the state. They've banded together to help each other out in the immediate aftermath.
"My great grandpa is one of 16 kids... so we have everyone helping out. My family on the Outer islands are sending them stuff, and doing whatever we can do really help," Kaniho said.
Thousands of miles from his home, Kaniho is continuing through fall camp at Boise State. Initially, he thought about heading home to help aid his family and others, but his father encouraged him to stay in Idaho.
"When I first saw that (the destruction), I definitely had that thought (to return) in mind, but my dad made sure that I was okay with them, and knew that they were taking care of them," Kaniho said. "He told me to stay up here and keep working hard."
His mother and father, still on Oahu, are sending family members generators, stoves and other essentials they need. They're also taking care of his four-year old daughter. Kaniho remarked on his worry for her, but his confidence and trust in his family.
"Yeah, it's obviously a little scary but like I said, the family's got her, and that's why I'm able to come up here and do what I do and still chase my dream because I have such a good support system back home who's taking great care of her, and I trust them with her life," Kaniho said.
Thankfully for Kaniho, he has a "second family" at Boise State, in his teammates, coaches and other staff. When asked about the culture inside the locker room, Kaniho thanked many for having his back during this time. or so?
"I've had teammates, coaches, training staff, film guys come out and reach out to me, and just are there for me, letting me know that if there's anything I need, I can always talk to them and they're there for me," Kaniho said. "I'm really thankful for them being there for me in this time."
He also has the support of his brother, Kekaula, who previously played for the Broncos from 2017-2021. Kekaula, still in Idaho, has attended practices, helping Kaonohi to develop as a football player. The brothers have continued to speak on a near-nightly basis, allowing them to stay strong while their family works to recover back in Hawaii.
"We're going over film together, and he's been at scrimmages and practices," Kaniho said. "Anytime he sees something on the field that I'm doing wrong, he'll come and help me out and teach me off what he knows."
Kaniho is expected to be in contention for a starting position once again after making 11 starts in 13 appearances during his redshirt sophomore season. He noted that while he has always played for his daughter, now he plays with an even larger purpose.