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.