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Former Hawaii Football Star Gary Allen Dies at 63

Gary Allen, the most prolific rusher in University of Hawaii football history, died of heart failure today in Los Angeles. He was 63.

As a Rainbow Warrior tailback for four seasons through 1981, Allen set UH’s career record 3,451 rushing yards.

“If you put everything together, we’ve had some great running backs,” said Jesse Sapolu, a former UH offensive lineman who went on to win four Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers. “But everybody knows he’s right up there all time. It’s a sad moment for all of us.”

Allen, often paired in the backfield with David Toloumu, was known for his determined running style and flapping shoulder pads. In practices, Allen ran every drill at full speed.

“He ran so frickin’ hard,” said Brian Derby, a former UH lineman who has run a football camp for 27 years. “I’ve never seen anyone — from then until now, through all my years of coaching — practice as hard as him. We would run 28 sweep, and he would take the ball and run all the way to the end zone. And then run back (to the huddle). And then the next play, he’d run all the way to the end zone again.”

Sapolu said, “He was spunky, always creating a good mood in practice. He loved his offensive line. He challenged us. He had a great spirit to him.”

Allen was the Houston Oilers’ sixth-round pick in the 1983 NFL Draft. He returned punts and was Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell’s backup. He also played for the Dallas Cowboys.

In 1998, several teammates attended the banquet honoring Allen’s induction into UH’s Circle of Honor. Allen thanked each of them.

“We’re here because of the person you are, not the player,” Derby recalled telling Allen. “The player is secondary. I’m here because you’re a great person. The friendship we made, that’s more important than anything we did on the field. Nobody remembers us as players. We’re hasbeens. But they remember how we treated people.”

In recent years, Allen joined teammates on a chartered bus ride from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to attend the Warriors’ road games against UNLV. Restaurant owner Rick Nakashima, who was friends with Allen for more than 40 years, was the organizer of the road trips.

“I’m really hurt,” Nakashima said. “I’ve had a lot of people pass away lately, but this … gosh, darn, this hurts. Oh, man, Gary was such a good guy. So darn humble, too. He was funny and a great guy to be around.”

Allen is survived by his wife Hilda, daughter Adrian, and son Jaden, a former UH receiver.

Source : StarAdvertiser