Another great Cuban-American success story

USA Today has a great story about Northeastern University point guard Adrian Martinez and his family.

BOSTON — Adrian Martinez once played basketball on rundown playground courts in Cuba. At times the backboards were made of rotting wood and bicycle tire rims doubled as basketball rims.
The Northeastern University senior describes the condition of his boarding school, a sports academy for Cuba’s rising athletes, as deplorable, with leaking plumbing, cracked playing surfaces and moldy hallways.

The memories are 10 years old, but they remain vivid, a stark contrast to his life as a Division I player in the USA.

“Life was so hard in Cuba,” Martinez, 22, says. “The quality of life was so low.”

The 6-2, 200-pound point guard averages 10.8 points for a Northeastern team that is 7-15 (5-6 in the Colonial Athletic Association), but Martinez doesn’t measure success with his scoring. He’s in a position to move forward, with a bachelor’s degree earned in criminal justice and work toward a master’s in sports leadership.

The opportunities ahead are numerous, a contradiction to life in Cuba.

“They really don’t have a chance of improving themselves,” he says of the aunts, uncles and cousins left behind. “It’s like you’re stuck and you’ll be there forever.”

Some of his relatives risked their lives by coming to the USA in homemade boats in 1994. Martinez’s family won an immigration lottery in 1996 that brought him, his parents and sister Ariadna, now 14, here and out of the poverty endured by more than half of Cuba’s estimated 11.4 million population. Their godsend, though, came with its pressure-packed moments.

Martinez, then 12, could not tell a soul about his family’s intentions to leave their home in Havana. The family feared retribution from those who could be jealous or those who pledged loyalty to Fidel Castro’s dictatorial government.

“If you told a neighbor, he could tell someone who could turn on you,” he says.

About his success he says, “When you see people, especially in your family, making such sacrifices for you, you can’t mess up.”

Read the whole wonderful story here.

8 thoughts on “Another great Cuban-American success story”

  1. A Tale of Two Martínez’s

    Both are named Martínez. Both are 21 years old. One was born in Cuba and the other raised by Cuban parents in the U.S. One is a credit to us, the other a disgrace. The one who is a credit was raised in Cuba; the one who is a disgrace was raised in Miami. There is the first lesson for us: Don’t suppose that all virtue is on this side of the Florida Straits and none on the other side.

    One Martínez loves his father for always being there for him in Cuba and the U.S. The other Martínez was abandoned at age 15 by his father, a Mariel refugee, who defected to Cuba after 20 years in this country. There is the second lesson for us: nurture matters; fathers matter.

    One Martínez was born in a Communist country but taught from the earliest age the value of freedom. The other was born in the U.S. but taught by his father to hate this country and adulate tyranny. There is the third lesson for us: The slave loves freedom more than the free man, because he feels the want of it more keenly than the free man knows its worth.

    One Martinez calls himself a “Bolivarian.” The other Martínez lives up to the ideals of Bolívar and Martí.

  2. Is there any statistics on the number of Cubans who have emmigrated since Castro took over? Namely, what percentage of the poipulation left?

  3. One-third in relation to the Cuban population in 1959; and one-fourth in relation to the population today.

  4. please ignore that. for some reason me posting that last comment has brought up the original article, which i initially couldn’t see..

  5. although i’d love to know who the ‘other’ martinez is, and how come his father defected TO cuba? i haven’t heard of people going that way before..are there many examples and if so, why would someone do that?

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