'Life without you is the hardest': Hundreds mourn Coast teen
MALU James Nona was described as the giant on the field you didn't want to mess with and the infectiously happy and loveable teen of which you couldn't get enough.
But the 19-year-old would never see out the star-studded football career for which he was destined.
His loved ones, mates, peers, teachers and the rugby league community have been left devastated by Malu's death in an accident on the Bruce Highway last weekend.
More than 600 people gathered at the Maroochydore Swans star's funeral on the weekend at the Gregson and Weight Buderim chapel, to share their fondest memories and to say final goodbyes.
The crowd heard Malu had recently moved back to the Coast to play for his beloved home team after trialling with the Cronulla Sharks under 20 Jersey Flegg side pre-season.
Before that, Malu had a three-year scholarship to play for Sydney boarding school, Saint Ignatius Riverview College.
Born on Thursday Island, Malu was raised by his grandparents Jim and Judy Tasker in Maroochydore following his mother's death.
He was only four months old when she died but friends and family were told he inherited her athleticism and positive attitude.
Eulogies were given by family members Jennifer Tasker, Jackson Kubian, Biama Nona, Bridget Tasker and his girlfriend Danielle Fortier.
Sister Biama shared an emotional tribute to her brother, protector and best friend.
"My baby brother, my first friend, first person I wanted to share with and laugh with...you were the first person who picked on me, who fought with me but also taught me forgiveness," she said.
"We were supposed to watch one another get married, raise our children together and grow old together.
"Life without you by my side is the hardest thing to get over, rest in peace my brother."
School friends, team mates, coaches, teachers and others who played an important role in the teen's life also shared their favourite memories.
They recalled his strength - so much of it that he once accidentally ripped a car door off its handles trying to shotgun the front seat.
They also recalled his protective nature. The crowd laughed at a memory shared where Malu accompanied his sister and another boy to the movies and he sat between them, convinced the pair were just friends.
Friends and family also laughed at memories where Malu finished an entire family pizza to himself and was still hungry afterwards, when he lit a tent on fire during a camping trip with mates, his ability to randomly break out in song and dance and his outspoken philosophical ideas; one of them being that teachers should teach meditation instead of maths.
Malu's father, Soloman said the last time he spoke with his son was a moment he would never forget.
"It was a couple of days before he left," Soloman said.
"He rang just to speak, we were talking and laughing and at the end of it he said, Dad, I love you."
Final farewells were held at the Maroochydore clubhouse after the service where the team he played the under-18 grand final with last year took to the field in memory of their mate.