The word “tragic” doesn’t begin to adequately describe the death of Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez, who lost his life early on Sunday morning in a boating accident. All around Baseball, people are trying to cope with his death and sending prayers to Fernandez’s family, but others are remembering Fernandez’s life. He was a man who escaped Cuba to start a new life in the United States, and who loved every second of the life he created.
It begins with his perilous trip to America with his mother, one that he almost never completed. Fernandez leaped into the water to save his mother’s life, without any guarantee he would survive.
I've read this paragraph over and over, praying there was miraculously someone there to save Jose Fernandez like he once saved his mother. pic.twitter.com/ZPIuYkIb9D— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) September 25, 2016
The most incredible part of this story is that Fernandez didn’t know who fell off the boat when he dived in. For all he knew he was risking his life for a stranger. It wasn’t until he got closer that he realized it was his mother who fell overboard.
Fernandez appreciated everything the USA had to offer. The idea of an all-you-can-eat buffet or free drink refills were so far removed from anything he knew that he was sure they didn’t exist.
The things Jose went through when he moved to this country. pic.twitter.com/cSShidBQkP— Rohan Nadkarni (@RohanNadkarni) September 25, 2016
What people remember Fernandez for the most isn’t his arrival in the USA or learning customs, but with the effervescent joy in which he played the game. He starred in one of the greatest baseball GIFs of all time.
He wasn’t just happy for his own achievements, but truly reveled in others’ success.
I hope someday anything makes me this happy pic.twitter.com/rbPDJoIMsc— Adam Peterson (@playerTBNL) September 25, 2016
Fernandez’s life is more about what he did on a diamond. He tirelessly worked in the community to enrich the lives of those around him. The totality of his efforts are enormous. Fernandez helped ALS charities, supported the marginalized in society and brought a smile to local kids who wouldn’t get a chance to see MLB without his help. These are the lives he changed.
And did you know Jose invited neighborhood kids to hang out with him before Sunday home games? pic.twitter.com/Vy30wPWQsN— Adam Peterson (@playerTBNL) September 25, 2016
Jose Fernandez was the embodiment of joy. A ray of sunshine in the lives of everyone who met him. He was an extraordinary baseball player, but also a genuinely wonderful human being — and the reaction from his teammates and players around the league show just how much he meant to them all.
As we remember Jose Fernandez don’t forget those he is leaving behind.