Former University of Hawaii linebacker Makani Kema-Kaleiwahea today signed a one-year contract with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Kema-Kaleiwahea, who completed his UH career in December 2016 and played in football leagues in Germany and Japan since. “I went around the entire world to get this opportunity.”
The Lions, who are based in Vancouver, British Columbia, secured the CFL’s exclusive negotiation rights to Kema-Kaleiwahea in March. He was offered two contracts: 1) a two-year deal, and 2) a one-year deal with an option for a second year. He said he chose the one-year offer because it gives him the freedom to pursue other pro opportunities in 2019.
“My family and I talked it over, and we ended up going with the more stable situation,” he said.
Kema-Kaleiwahea recently participated in the Spring League, a developmental and scouting event in Austin, Texas. Former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel also was a participant. At the Spring League workouts, Kema-Kaleiwahea met with scouts from the Oakland Raiders.
Kema-Kaleiwahea said he will report to the Lions’ four-day mini camp on April 27 in Vancouver. He will return to Honolulu for a month, then go back for the Lions’ organized team activities. Kema-Kaleiwahea and former UH linebacker Solomon Elimimian will be teammates. They train together in the offseason.
Kema-Kaleiwahea received the 2017 NCAA Division men’s hero of the year award for his involvement with the foster family program.