By Dominick Fils-Aimé | September 30, 2016
The city of Miami and the Miami Marlins lost their budding star pitcher, Jose Fernandez to a boating accident on Sunday September 25th. The 24 year old was survived by his mother, grandmother, stepfather, stepsister and a girlfriend. Fernandez’s was also expecting he and his girlfriends first child together, a baby daughter, in February.
The beloved Cuban superstar’s impact on the game was reflected by the number of fans and community members who paid tribute to the pitcher, during a public viewing at St. Brendan Catholic Church in Miami on Wednesday.
“So many times we talked about dreams, things left to do, the future,” said Ramon Jimenez, the stepdad who raised Fernandez. “He was the light of everyone and now that light has been extinguished.”
Fernandez will be remembered for his childlike joy, charisma and his love for his friends and families. If he wasn’t putting in extra work at mound, he was playing pranks on his teammates or playing dominoes with his beloved abuela.
“He was a 100-mph human being, not just a 100-mph pitcher,” said Ron Yacoub, physical therapist and rehab consultant for the Marlins. “Fast cars, fast boats — even rode his bicycle fast. He made it to the majors fast, he rehabbed his arm fast.”
The 2013 National League Rookie of the Year had a bright future ahead of him. Barring serious injury, he would almost surely have been a perennial all star and future Cy Young Award recipient. He threw a team record 253 strikeouts this season putting him in the Cy Young conversation with one more start scheduled in the regular season.
Fernandez’s relationship with the ocean was a unique one, as it sealed his mortal fate and afforded him the freedoms he was denied under the dictatorship of Fidel Castro.
He and his family made efforts to reach the States 3x before finding success. When he was 14, he was caught and returned by the U.S Coast guard and forced to face 2 months in jail among murderers. When he was 15, he and his family made it to Cancun, Mexico, subsequently taking two busses to Tampa. They were robbed in transit. On the way to their destination, his family was subject to rough seas that resulted in a member of Fernandez’s travel group going overboard. Without being cognizant that the woman was his mother, Fernandez promptly jumped in the water and saved her. Miami and the Cuban community will miss her hero.