For over a year, Oakland A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had hardly any idea of where his mother, Estella Milanes, and 11 of his family members were or where they might end up. Cespedes defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2011 to pursue a career in professional baseball. The 26-year-old has succeeded, but prior to this week he had done so at the expense of having to be separated from his family.
According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, Milanes had been struggling to emigrate from Cuba to the United States to join her son. After a long stay in the Dominican Republic, she and her family members were detained as illegal immigrants and held in the Turks and Caicos Islands. They finally made it to Miami over the weekend, where Cespedes paid them a surprise visit.
“No one knew I was coming,” Cespedes said Tuesday through translator Ariel Prieto. “Everyone was sleeping, so I turned on all of the radios, all of the TVs. Nobody woke up, so I went upstairs and started knocking on all of the doors and screaming.
“I’m very happy. So much happiness.”
Cespedes stayed for 12 hours before he had to return to the airport for his flight back to Phoenix, but as you can imagine his family was overjoyed to see him. During the first four months of last season, Cespedes said he was in contact with his mother only about 10 times. There was even a stretch of about three or four days where he had no idea where she was.
“I had no idea where my family was,” he said. “They just disappeared.
Milanes represented Cuba in the 2000 Summer Olympics, where she was a softball pitcher who topped speeds of 80 mph. Cespedes proudly said that she was the “best lefty softball pitcher in all of Latin America” for a 10-year stretch and joked that she is now going to be his second hitting coach. Judging by the feat he pulled off over the winter, it doesn’t seem like he needs much advice.
It’s easy to look at someone who has a four-year, $36 million contract at age 26 and think about how lucky they are. Cespedes’ emotional reunion with his mother and family reminds us that there is more to life than just a bank account.
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