I am especially saddened today to learn of the death of 24-year old Jose Fernandez.
I am almost speechless in trying to convey the teenager I met and his most harrowing ventures leaving Cuba to make it to America.
It was as if his life had just begun. Unsuccessful attempts to leave Cuba left this young man in jail. All attempts to make a better life for himself and his mother beaten by fate.
Then, a twist of fate brought that day he and his mom found the shores of opportunity, and soon would land him under the guidance of teachers at Alonzo High School.
He didn't know how to speak English, but he learned quickly. Jose was fortunate to have mentors guide him through a monumental cultural transition.
As is the case with many Cuban boys, baseball was a passion.
He had a God-given talent and perhaps it was divine intervention that led him to a country he could share that talent.
Humbled by the opportunity is what I will always remember about Jose.
Never taking his talent for granted.
It was a pleasure to meet such a young man who felt that way.
Once he left Alonzo, Jose was without question an athlete that I quietly pulled for.
In our industry we are trained to be without favoritism.
Yet, it is only human when you like someone, respect someone, you have their best interests at heart.
Jose is not the only athlete, there have been many through the years.
Today, I find myself wondering, why?
Some are trying to draw a parallel of arriving in the United States by boat, and dying in a boating accident.
I can not.
Jose's arrival by boat had a true sense of purpose. His death early this morning makes little sense at all.
Freedom was his.
RIP Jose Fernandez. I will always remember you as a grateful young man who had an opportunity to live your dream.