The day when a high school athlete signs over his future to a college is always a momentous occasion. Usually, an athlete can't sign his name along the dotted line quickly enough. For Forest Hill (N.Y.) star Jose Torres Jr., that wasn't the case because of his desire for a lasting tribute.
As reported by the New York Daily News' Mitch Abramson, Torres intentionally delayed signing his basketball letter of intent to Broward Junior College so he could make the day he signs his name on the line coincide with the birthday of his late father. That day came Wednesday, when the senior inked his name on the same day on which his father would have turned 68.
"I felt it was important to show my respects and to make it a real special day," Torres told the Daily News. "He's the one who taught me my morals and who gave me my toughness."
Jose Torres Sr. died October 27, 2010 of complications from prostate cancer. The Torres family hails from the Dominican Republic, and Torres Jr. will compete for the Dominican national team this summer, in part to continue honoring his father and his roots.
That tribute carries on from a senior season in which Torres Jr. averaged a double-double of 13 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game. Throughout his junior and senior seasons, Torres Jr. and teammate Denzel Dulin bonded over tragedy, helping each other finish off their high school careers. Like Torres Jr., Dulin lost his mother to cancer. As Torres Jr. grieved for the loss of his father, Dulin rallied behind him, helping him through the grieving process without giving up on immense basketball potential, just two years after Dulin had pushed through a basketball season after the loss of his mother.
"[Dulin] just really looked out and comforted [me]," Torres told the Daily News. "When we're in a tough game, he looks at me and I look at him and I say, 'This is for the people in heaven.' We push extra hard."
Now, thanks to that hard work, Torres Jr. will be pushing extra hard in collegiate basketball, a transition he made official by honoring his father in a profound way.