The Roar
The Roar


Jonah Lomu wanted to live to see his boys turn 21

Jonah Lomu's former coach has paid tribute to him at a memorial service at Eden Park. (AFP PHOTO / FILES / LEON NEAL)
18th November, 2015

Seven years after having a successful kidney transplant, Jonah Lomu’s body rejected the organ in 2011 and his health battles intensified as he was forced onto dialysis.

Lomu’s rare kidney disorder known as nephrotic syndrome plagued the star rugby player as early as 1995. He kept it a secret for much of his career, not wanting the illness to define him.

It may have slowed him down after 2011, but he was determined to fight for one simple reason. His two boys, Brayley and Dhyreille.
In one of his final interviews with Sportsmail, Lomu opened up about his illness.

“My goal is to make it to the boys’ 21sts,” Lomu said.

“There are no guarantees that will happen, but it’s my focus. It’s a milestone that every parent wants to get to. My Dad died young and that makes you think.”

Lomu didn’t speak to his father for 17-years after a difficult childhood where he and his mother were beaten. His harsh life lessons tested his resolve but he always fought through it, making him as determined to succeed as any All Black in history.

“I don’t fear nobody. It’s just the way I attacked life.”

“This disease is a challenge but you either lie down and die or you accept it and carry on. I have never been able to accept coming second to anybody or anything, including an illness.”


Despite having hours of dialysis every week, Lomu stayed remarkably upbeat. He still managed to take his kids to the 2015 Rugby World Cup and performed a surprise haka in London.

“You have to try and stay up and be happy and positive about it.”

“It does get you down at times. It’s difficult. [Every dialysis patient] has no other choice. Your second choice isn’t really a choice. It’s just you giving up.”

Those words will no doubt continue to inspire anyone doing it tough.

His incredible rugby talent will never be forgotten for all who were lucky enough to watch him play. He was a legend who single handedly grew the game but who managed to remain a modest hero until the end.