Entering the 2010 season, Reid Vaenuku was known for being one of the more reliable starters on one of the nation's most explosive prep football offenses at Euless (Texas) Trinity High (that's the same high school program that Madden 11 used to help promote it's release and which was featured in a 2007 Gatorade commerical, in case you've forgotten). A year later, he's earned regional fame for something a bit more serious, and heroic: Saving his brother's life in a fire.
According to WFAA-TV in Dallas, Vaenuku -- who graduated from Trinity in May -- saved his younger brother Keio after a house-engulfing fire at the Vaenuku family's abode began in Reid's room. Among seven Vaenuku children, Reid watched his cell phone charger short-circuit and burst into flames, eventually engulfing his room and spreading from there throughout the house.
While other members of the family responded to Reid's calls of "Fire!", his younger brother Keio -- who is currently with the Trinity football program that Reid recently departed from -- thought the calls were a joke and went back to bed.
When Reid counted family members and came up with eight instead of nine, he didn't hesitate before running back into the house of flames to rescue his younger sibling.
"When I came in I just ducked down to where the air was just so I could be ready to run out if anything happened," Reid Vaenuku told WFAA. "They said the roof could have caved in, but I wasn't thinking about that ... just trying to come in and get him out."
The elder Vaenuku did that without hesitation, thanks in part to a litany of leadership training he's put himself through. The recent graduate is already an Eagle Scout, and the Boy Scouts of America plan to honor him with the rare Honor Medal with cross palms designation for his late July familial heroics.
While the crossed palms may be an honor -- just as Trinity's runners-up finish in UIL's Class 5A Division II football playoffs in 2010 was -- Vaenuku's mother insisted that the real honor was bestowing such an aware son on her family.
"To know he was smart enough and alert enough, he stayed focused to go back in and just made me so thankful," Cela Vaenuku said.