February 9 was supposed to be the happiest day of Leo Klink's life. Instead, he'll remember his Hawaii soccer state championship for the saddest of all reasons.
Unbeknownst to him, Klink's mother Hiroyo left the state title game in an ambulance before she got the chance to see her son score the game-winning penalty kick in Kalani (Honolulu, Hawaii) High's 3-2 victory against cross-island rival Punahou.
After watching their son score a game-tying goal in the first half, Paul Klink noticed his wife acting strangely at halftime and called 911, as detailed in a heartbreaking CNN feature that updates Klink's story. Hiroyo had suffered a stroke. An ambulance arrived moments later, causing a 15-minute delay that Leo believed was the result of an injured Punahou player.
As previously noted in this terrific Yahoo! Sports feature by Eric Adelson, Kalani coaches kept the news from their star player at Hiroyo's request, according to the report. Leo, the state's returning Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year, scored the game-tying goal in the second half and the game-winning penalty kick in the shootout. Afterwards, Kalani coach Michael Ching broke the news to Leo.
"When coach told me about my mom then I just broke down with tears of sadness," Leo, 17, told CNN. "I was happy and then I just got really, really depressed."
He left before receiving his medal and arrived at the hospital in time to tell his mother two things before she died: His team won the state championship, and he loved her.
"I wanted her last thought of me to be that I loved her, and that I would be a good boy," he added, "and that I know she's going to look over me and that we're going to meet again someday."
Leo's father has a heart ailment that prevents him from working, the report said, so friends have established a fund to help Leo realize his mother's dream of having her son receive a college education. You can contribute to the Leo Klink Fund here.