Sagapolutele, former NFL player from Hawaii, dies at 39


POSTED: Monday, June 08, 2009

Pio Sagapolutele, who went from Kuhio Park Terrace to the Super Bowl, died Sunday at age 39.

Sagapolutele suffered a brain aneurysm Friday and never recovered, said his wife, Yvonne, in a phone interview today. She said he had been in good health.

“;It was something that can happen to anyone, you never know,”; she said. “;He complained about headaches for a couple of days, and then he was unconscious. (Medical personnel) were able to revive him briefly, but he was unresponsive.”;

Sagapolutele, who completed a seven-year NFL career in 1997, lived in Phoenix with Yvonne and their four children, Pio, Jr., Malia, Sky and Noah.

He started at defensive tackle for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI in 1996, and also played for the Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints. He had career highs of 20 tackles and three sacks in his one season with the Patriots.

Sagapolutele was one of the best Hawaii high school athletes of the 1980s, starring for Maryknoll in basketball and Pac-Five in football.

“;He was a very conscientious, sincere person,”; said Don Botelho, who was coach of Pac-Five, which won the 1985 Prep Bowl with Sagapolutele among the team's stars. Sagapolutele helped at Pac-Five as an assistant coach before moving to Arizona, Botelho said.

He went on to play college football at San Diego State. The Browns picked him in the fourth round (85th overall) in the 1991 NFL Draft.

Since his pro football career ended, Sagapolutele lived a quiet life raising his family, Yvonne said. He would occasionally hold a football camp or help at a friend's.

Yvonne Sagapolutele said she and the children will fly to Hawaii on Wednesday. Services here are pending.

Pio Sagapolutele is also survived by nine brothers and sisters.