Jonah Lomu: Mormon Athlete
Jonah Lomu, a New Zealand rugby legend, joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2012 with his wife, Nadene. They had two sons.
He was born on May 12, 1975, in Pukekohe, South Auckland, New Zealand. He played rugby league as a youth and was introduced to rugby union at a tournament in Te Kuiti. He quickly drew international attention when he became the youngest ever All Black team rugby player, at the age of 19 years and 45 days, to play in his first international tournament (the 1994 Hong Kong Sevens tournament). He was considered the top player at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. During his career, he played for All Black, the Auckland Blues, Chiefs, and Hurricanes as well as Counties Manukau, Wellington, North Harbour, and Cardiff Blues. He scored 37 tries in 63 tests for New Zealand between 1994 and 2002. He set a record of 15 tries in World Cup tournaments, equaled only by Bryan Habana of South Africa. Lomu retired in 2007 and was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. He was portrayed in a 2009 movie, Invictus, about Nelson Mandela and the South Africa rugby team in the 1995 World Cup.
Lomu died on November 18, 2015, after years of poor health due to a kidney illness—he was first diagnosed in 1996 with a rare kidney disorder, nephrotic syndrome. He received a transplant in 2004, but his body rejected the kidney in 2011 and he had regular dialysis treatment while he waited for a second kidney donor. He suffered a heart attack caused by the disease.