Alex Rodriguez gets emotional as he describes how Boys & Girls Club saved his life as a kid

1:45 | Major League Baseball
MLB ALL-Star break honors past Latino legends

by Becky Randel

Fourteen-time MLB All-Star Alex Rodriguez may be a sports legend now, but the former New York Yankee says his path could have gone in a very different direction.

Speaking on Tuesday morning (just before the All-Star game) at the Boys & Girls Club of Miami-Dade, Rodriguez recalled how the local charity formed his childhood years and guided his future.

“This is a dream day. It’s a dream day because the Boys & Girls Club really shifted – perhaps saved – my life,” the slugger said of the club, which was celebrating a new teen center in Kendall.

“My mother worked two jobs, she was a secretary in the morning and served tables at night – at a place called Latin America right down the street.

“And I remember every day getting dropped off at the Boys & Girls Club, doing my homework for about two or three hours – at least pretending to do my homework (laughs) – and then I would go and play baseball under the lights as a nine year old boy. In front of hundreds of people, under the lights.”

Rodriguez, 41, who spent the weekend attending All-Star events with girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, happily celebrated the club’s newest expansion, which he has donated millions to.

Joined by his daughter Natasha and current Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton, the athlete took the club’s current kids through some drills before officially cutting the ribbon at the new teen center.

Rodriguez will also announce Tuesday night’s All-Star game for Fox Sports.

Referencing his work with the organization as well as Stanton’s work with his charity All Star Smiles, Rodriguez said, “A lot of amazing things can be done when people come together and try to give back and pay it forward. All of us here have been very fortunate and have been tremendous beneficiaries of Major League Baseball,” adding of their efforts, “For a lot of kids it’s a hope – out of the inner city – out of the ghetto, it gives you hope.”

After the ribbon cutting, Rodriguez took a minute to reinforce his message.

“The Boys & Girls Club didn’t just give me a place to go after school, it also taught me a high level of competition…it’s our job now to pay that debt back,” he said, adding, “that time for me was life changing.”

This story original appeared on people.com.

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