Beloved Lions equipment man Ken ‘Kato’ Kasuya passes away

Longtime B.C. Lions equipment man Ken ‘Kato’ Kasuya has passed away.

“We are devasted as an organization today. From the day he rode his bike to Empire Stadium as a teenager more than 40 years ago to volunteer as a water boy, Kato endeared himself to generations of Lions players and staff members. He was a treasured part of our family, loved dearly by anyone who came to know him,” Lions’ president Rick LeLacheur said in a statement.

“Tasked with the incredible responsibility to ensure the health of our players, he did so with passion, joy and tireless effort. He will forever be in the hearts of the legions of players and coaches who have passed through our locker room doors along with thousands in the football community across Canada.”

Kato began as a ball boy with the Lions at the age of 13. He was hired as the team’s assistant equipment manager in 1984. A decade later, Kato was named equipment manager, the same year the Lions won the Grey Cup in 1994 and held the position ever since.

“The entire Canadian Football League family is deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Ken Kasuya. Better known to four decades’ worth of CFL players as ‘Kato’, he did his job as the BC Lions equipment manager with professionalism, passion and a work ethic that was tireless and selfless. And yet, over the years, his personality and presence became just as important to his team and our league as the crucial role he played,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement.

“He is one of those rare individuals who came to the CFL as a boy and dedicated his entire working life to our athletes and our game. In the process, Mr. Kasuya became as synonymous with the Lions as any star player or legendary coach. He will be deeply missed. Our sympathies are with his family, his friends and his many teammates, past and present.”

Reaction to the news of Kasuya’s passing poured in from around the league:

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