For the first time, we're hearing from the family of pro-baseball player Jose Fernandez, just a week after he died in a boating accident. ABC Action News spoke exclusively with the man who raised Jose since he was three months old.
Ramon Jimenez understands failure and despair. 14 times he tried defecting from Cuba, but none of those came close to the sinking feeling he got on Sunday September 25th. In bed, he got the call. Jose was gone.
"And I could only say, 'Not my son, not my son. It can't be true, no," said Jimenez.
The same energetic son Jimenez helped raise, the same son who then outgrew him at 6"2. The child who became a man by taking on the sea with a small boat in Jose's fourth attempt to reach the land of opportunities. His American dream was professional baseball.
"He had two neurons," said Jimenez, "One for his basic bodily functions like eating and the other one for baseball."
Jimenez was in a state of disbelief until the funeral. His hand on the window of the hearse not yet ready to say the final goodbye.
"Next to the car was a picture of him with flowers," Jimenez said the sight caused him to break down.
A week later, he holds on tightly to the memories. He told ABC Action News, some time ago he hid a box, in his home, with pictures and letters from Jose. He couldn't find it again.
"Do you know why?" asked Jimenez, "So, that he could find it when I died. Not the other way around."
Jimenez's community is holding him together. He's received more than 5,000 messages since Jose died and answered every one.
Although the same waters that brought Jose here, took him away, his father says his legacy lives on with a fund aimed at helping youth in the community. Jose also has a child on the way.