By: Olivia Hernandez
Jose Fernández was much more than a ball player when he died on September 25th, 2016. Fernández’s life was one characterized by struggle, but also by love and kindness. A Cuban native, he attempted to defect from the island 4 times and was jailed after his failures to flee. In 2008, during one of his attempts to reach the States, he saved his own mother from drowning on the boat ride over. When he finally made it to the U.S., he didn’t speak the English language, but he did, however, speak the language of baseball perfectly.
Fernández was drafted by the Miami Marlins in 2011 and was on the trajectory for success. In 2013, he was named the National League Rookie of the Year 2013 and played twice as an All-Star player. However, it was not just his ability to play ball that was noticed. Jose’s personality was often spoken highly of too. In the days following his death, people recall his effortless ability to radiate excitement for life and passion for the game he loved. He is remembered not only as a stellar player, but also as the kind, compassionate, and accessible man that he was.
Jose Fernández was the manifestation of the Cuban-American Dream and for this reason, along with others, his death hit the Miami community hard. Many are still shocked by his death, my family included. As family of immigrants from Cuba, his victories were our victories, and somehow those victories feels tarnished now that he is gone. But we mustn't let him die in vain. He continues to be an inspiration to us all, a reminder of what is possible for a Cuban kid from Santa Clara. The emotional news conferences have aired and the Marlins have paid tribute to him during their games, but the mourning of his death and the celebration of his life will not end there. His legacy will always live on in those he inspired and his victories, our victories will never be forgotten.