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Marlins Jose Fernandez: From Cuba to the MLB

 

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It took Jose Fernandez four attempts, and the near drowning of his mother, to flee from Cuba. This wouldn't deter a young man from accomplishing his dreams.

The Cuban native is from the small town of Santa Clara, Cuba. Fernandez started playing baseball at the age of five.  As a youth, he pitched the Cuban National Championships three times. Although he might have been a star in Cuba, he had one dream and that was to play in the MLB.

His father, Ramon Fernandez, made it to America in 2005 and found a home in Tampa Bay.  This forced Jose, still in Cuba, to become the man of the house at an early age.  In order to achieve his goals, Fernandez knew he would have to follow his father's steps.

Getting to America wasn't the easiest of tasks. Due to failed attempts, Fernandez spent time in jail.

"You had no clothes, except the clothes you had on your back. And there was no shelter in these prisons. When it rained, you got wet; it was freezing. You got treated like an animal," said Fernandez.

 

But through jail and hard times Fernandez would keep pushing to get out of Cuba. This almost led to the drowning of his mother on an attempt to flee.  She fell out of the boat and Fernandez courageously rescued her without realizing it was his own mother.

"You have to be a man. You have to make some big decisions that a lot of kids 14, 15, 16 years old don't make. So I made that decision when I saw somebody fall from the boat. I didn't even know it was my mom," said Fernandez.

Fernandez and his family found hope on their last attempt. They fought through 8-foot waves and had thoughts of dying before making it to Mexico by speedboat. From Mexico, they bused to the U.S. border in Hidalgo, Texas and finally reunited with his father.

Through all of his struggles you could understand why the days nearing the draft didn't bother the young pitcher. 

"I waited 15 years of my life for freedom and to get out of Cuba. A few more days won't bother me. I think what I went through in my life, being in prison, risking my life to get here, that all prepared me for this moment. What I experienced in Cuba is a big part of who I am. I came here to live a dream and to play something that I love, baseball. Trying to escape, living poor, and I mean really poor, being put in prison, it's made me a better person," said Fernandez.

Through big waves and open seas, Jose Fernandez' dreams have come true.

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