ESPN talk show host, Dan Le Batard, provided his sentiments on the tragic death of MLB’s young star, Jose Fernandez.

“Called my mother with the awful news Sunday morning.” Le Batard began his article “Had such a hard time getting out the words that she thought something terrible had happened to me.” As a Cuban American, Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was a favorite of Le Batard’s mother.  Le Batard described breaking the news to his mom as heart breaking.  The young star’s tremendous story was what brought the elderly woman to baseball games. “These kind of emotional connections in sports are so rare. We didn’t know him. But we did. Fernandez’s exile story was our story, from fleeing to freeing, so we mourned as a family and asked questions with no answers and appreciated life and love a little more than we did a few minutes earlier,”

Fernandez’s journey to America was difficult to say the least.  He attempted to defect from Cuba four times (during one attempt he had to save his mother from drowning), and was jailed for his troubles. The young man never gave up and eventually made it to America, but found life harder here than in a Cuban jail.  Yet and still he persevered. 

Despite all odds, Fernandez achieved success at a young age.  And this is why his death comes as both shocking and sad.  For Cuban Americans, Fernandez was more than a baseball player. He was a symbol of strength, courage, pride, and freedom.

This is why it is always important to showcase diversity within sports because you never know who it could impact or touch.