Diaz siblings embraces No. 22 to honor late brother

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – The Diaz family has been through it all and sports heals what was once lost.

“I remember there was a time we were in our backyard at our old house, we were playing wiffle ball, and it was the best experience,” said Marilena Diaz, a sophomore at WOIS.

Moments like that are what got Mari and Anthony Diaz obsessed with playing sports. Four sports for Anthony. SIX sports for Mari. It’s their lives.

“I feel like the best part is playing with the people that I like and love, said Mari Diaz.

“Keeping yourself out away from the reality, from the real world. You don’t have to do other things like doing bad things out on the streets, but instead you’re doing sports, doing good things for yourself,” said Anthony Diaz, a junior at WOIS.

Even when you’re on the right path, others might not be and the Diaz family dealt with that in the worst way possible. In May of 2017, their oldest son, Larry J. Morales Junior was senselessly killed walking out of a store in his neighborhood. But his legacy lives on.

“Before the service, our parents had us write little notes to put in the casket. Basically, to sum up what I said, was saying, to honor you, I’ll wear the number 22, because that’s the age he passed away,” said Anthony Diaz.

“Wearing 22 it not just represents me but it represents what I stand for and how he’s impacted my life so much even at a young age at losing him. He really helped me throughout a lot and him being big in sports as well, I feel like I can carry on his legacy and keep him proud,” said Mari Diaz.

The Diaz parents say their children are leaders in the handfuls of sports they play. Anthony is the quiet leader.

“I was always one of the shy kids. I never was really the one to speak out as much,” said Anthony Diaz.

Mari… not so much.

“I am very opposite (leadership). I am very outgoing with my leadership, because I feel like I can impact so much more by standing up to any sort of challenge and helping others throughout. It’s not just benefitting me, but benefitting my team, my whole community,” said Mari Diaz.

They combine those leadership qualities to help with Forever 22, an organization dedicated to honoring their older brother.

“We try to flip the script and make something so tragic, something that can help people. And that’s what we try to do with Forever 22,” said Mari Diaz.

“Just us and the organization being there for them, we can leave a positive impact on them,” said Anthony Diaz.

And that’s the power of sports.