Boating accident kills sports star

Even if you're not a sports fan, you might have already learned of this in the news, as all the major media outlets are covering the tragic story.

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two others were killed in a boat crash in Miami overnight.

This tragedy hits close to home, literally, as I was born and raised in South Florida and still live here to this day. I've followed the Marlins closely since the organization's inception in 1993. Over the years, I've watched countless Marlins games on TV or in person with my dad; we were even on hand for a few playoff games during their improbable championship run in 2003. Because my wife and I moved farther from the stadium last year -- and due to other commitments -- I haven't been as avid a fan the last couple of years, but I still try to catch a game every so often and keep up with the standings.

Authorities say speed may have been a factor, and it doesn't appear that drugs or alcohol were involved. A Coast Guard Patrol spotted the overturned 32-foot boat at 3:30 a.m. on a jetty. The bodies were discovered shortly thereafter; none of the victims were wearing life vests.

A two-time All-Star, Fernandez won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2013. He appeared to be headed for another stellar season in 2014, but after eight starts his year came to an end when it was determined Fernandez would need Tommy John surgery. He returned from the procedure to make 11 starts in 2015 and had been putting up gaudy numbers in 2016.

Fernandez was born in Cuba and he attempted to defect three times before finally reaching U.S. soil in 2007 with his mother. Ironically, during his journey at sea, Fernandez's mom fell off the boat. Fernandez dove into the ocean to save her, not knowing at first that it was his mother who'd fallen.

Fernandez went to school in Tampa, Florida, where he quickly learned the English language. He played in just 27 games in the minor leagues, reaching the Single-A level in 2012 before making the Marlins' Opening Day roster in 2013 at the age of 20. Without a doubt, Fernandez was one of the game's rising stars and biggest success stories in recent years.

Beyond that, his friends, family, and teammates remember him as a great person on and off the field. At the ballpark, he was an electrifying presence whether he was on the diamond striking batters out or acting as a cheerleader in the dugout. I don't know if I've ever seen another player in any sport display the kind of energy, spirit, and heart that Jose did. I can only assume that the Marlins will retire his number (16), which they've already painted on the mound at Marlins Park following his untimely death. It's going to be a while before the organization rebounds from this devastating loss.

Sadly, the 24-year-old and his girlfriend were expecting their first child.

Jose had his whole life ahead of him. It's very saddening to see it tragically cut short. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jose's family. This tragedy eerily reminds me of the car accident that claimed the life of actor Paul Walker a few years ago, with speed also being a factor in that one.

When these shocking events occur, it really puts things into perspective and reminds us of just how delicate life really is. We should always aim to make the most of our lives, for we never know when it'll be our turn to go. In the process, we should strive to tell and show our loved ones how much they mean to us.

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