The Hayward High School football star fell off a Boogie Board on Thursday at Poplar State Beach, just off the coast of Half Moon Bay.
Due to strong currents and high waves, his friends weren’t able to rescue him. His body still hasn’t been found.
Russell Winston III has been friends with Moimoi since grade school. He says Naphtali was an ambitious young man, who was always motivating his peers.
“He always pushed me on and off the field, with school and my grades. He was always working. He was just preaching to me how important it was to (good) grades and you gotta stay focused,” says Winston.
“He really knew how to show love to people around him. He wasn’t afraid to be friendly to people,” says an emotional Jonathan Monti, who taught Naphtali in elementary school and who is also a family friend.
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More than 100 people turned out for the vigil, which was held at the high school. They wrote down memories and signed a jersey, which will be given to the Moimoi family. They formed a circle and said a prayer to close out the evening.
At the vigil, football coach Justin Redemer said the legacy one leaves behind is a testament to one’s character. He says Friday’s strong turnout was a testament to Naphtali.
“He was just a great young man. He was loyal, he persevered despite all the circumstances thrown in front of him,” Coach Redemer.
The coach described Naphtali as a “monster on the field.” He broke several school records and recently earned a full scholarship to play at the University of Wyoming in the fall.
“He was a great football player, a great teammate, great friend a great captain. It’s a testament to his parents and the job they did raising him. And the values they instilled in him,” says Redemer.
Family friends say Naphtali’s immediate family spent most of Friday at the beach, still hoping his body will be found.
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