Deke: Hokie was #46 in your program but #1 in our hearts
by Deke Bellavia,posted Apr 12 2016 6:24PM
From the days when he used to buffalo his way over many who tried to derail this one man stampede from Baker, Louisiana...to becoming one of the hardest, most physical and flat out toughest Tigers from LSU...Hokie Gajan was hard as nails on the field of play and as kind, respectful and gentlemanly off it.
Hokie was number 46 in your program, but number one in our hearts. He was a son, who made his parents proud, a brother who gave his all, a friend like no other and Hok developed into a legendary Louisiana football player, a loyal loving husband, devoted and cherished father. From top to bottom from beginning to end, he was a damn fine man.
For five straight years Hokie and I lived together for a little over a month during Saints Training Camp. And, although we were covering the Black and Gold, it would be me who was in training. If you paid attention to what Hok said, who he worked with, scouted for and then told his team who to pick in the draft, you would have easily noticed that Hokie Gajan scouted and gave grades on at least six pro football Hall of Famers and ten times as many players who were great in the NFL.
But the ball, which was a part of his entire life, was just a small fraction of the man Hokie really was. I learned more about being a humble, loyal, dedicated and determined person, which also led to life lessons about how to be a great father and become a better man.
Oh, yes, although the masses knew Hokie Gajan for what he did as a player and the many signature one liners he produced without missing a beat, he was so much more than a great football mind. Hokie told you how he felt. He never lied on anyone. And, if you wanted a real honest...in your face opinion...you always got it from Hok.
For 56 years the world was a better place, because Hokie Gajan was in it. And, today, the world lost a one of a kind, unique and just flat out real good dude. Yes, today we all mourn in sadness that he’s gone, but when we think of his loyalty, love and memories...when he said things like “he’s so fast he can go rabbit hunting with a hammer,” we know his impression was lasting and his time with us will never really end.
From the 15 hour road trips Hokie, Jim (Henderson) and I made...to brim fishing on worms and crickets while using a good old cane pole in Mr. Jack Liuzza’s Pond...I do thank God I spent a lot of time with Hokie.
There’s no way one show, one day or even one week could tell what he meant to all of us. But I guess there never really is enough time to properly send off a man like Hokie Gajan - a man of faith, family, friends, food and football. A man like Hokie don’t come around often. A man like Hokie comes around just once in a lifetime.
I never told him to his face I loved him. But I hope that my actions, our time together and the things we did for each other helped him see that I did love him.