Tragic news hit the Miami Marlins Sunday morning with the confirmation of José Fernández’s death. The 24-year-old Cuban-American pitcher passed away in a boating accident Saturday.
Fernández, who became an American citizen last year, defected from Cuba at 15, after three previous failed attempts that ended in his arrest, according to CBS Sports. When he finally succeeded, he had to jump into the water to save his mother, who had fallen out of the vessel. Years later, he was reunited with his grandmother.
Fernández was the Marlin’s star and one of the brightest pitching talents in Major League Baseball. In his first season, he won the Rookie of the Year award and finished third in the National League Cy Young voting. Beyond the fact that he had an amazing arm, Fernández brought an infectious joy to the game. He was unapologetically emotional when he played, and on a few occasions that ruffled the feathers of opposing players.
The Marlins issued a statement and canceled Sunday’s scheduled game against the Atlanta Braves.
Tributes from around around the sports world have already begun pouring in: