Throughout my sixth grade, I practiced playing the ukulele religiously. With the help of Mr. Ellis, my brother, and a close neighbor Melvin Yagin, my drive to learn this instrument was immeasurable. I studied scales, chord progressions, and figured out songs and solos by ear — I became so focused and attentive to the ukulele. I practiced at least four hours every single day … early in the morning before school, during school, after school, and before bedtime. The ukulele became my passion, my love, my whole life. For me it was a natural high … doing something I enjoyed more than anything else in this world. This was the true turning point.
After a year of concentrating solely on the ukulele, and with my asthma now well under control, I returned to baseball for the remaining years of junior high. Within two years, I made the all-star team twice and was tapped for a trip to Fullerton, California, to compete in the Pony League 13 year-old regional Tournament. That was an experience of a lifetime for this young Maui boy.