Some of the best stories can’t be contained in a box. There are some stories that seem almost too good to be true.
This is one of those stories.
Javier Aponte (jr) spent nearly his entire life in Puerto Rico. His journey to the United States a few years ago wasn’t planned. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t without sacrifice. But it was worth it.
This is his story.
Shortly after Aponte was born, his mother suffered a massive stroke, forcing his brothers and aunt to raise him since his father worked around the clock to provide for his family.
Things didn’t get any easier for Aponte as he grew up. He knew his family was struggling and he knew he needed to help. A normal childhood for Aponte was out of the question.
“If I didn’t learn how to cook, if I didn’t learn how to do all that stuff, who was going to do that in my house? Nobody. My mom couldn’t, my dad wasn’t home and my brothers were in school so I had to learn to do that stuff,” Aponte explained. “I wasn’t focused on playing, I was focused on what I was going to eat tomorrow, what I was going to eat today.”
But cooking and household chores alone were not going to help his family survive. Aponte found out how he could make a difference, though it was not strictly legal.
“I started fighting. Fighting was my thing. I was very, very, very good at it,” he said.
At first, Aponte wasn’t fighting just to fight; he was fighting for the defenseless.
“I was always defending the people that were not brave, that were not as blessed as I was in that area. I started doing that, that’s how it started, and then after that it changed. It completely changed,” Aponte said. “Then I started doing illegal fights, like fighting in the streets for money.”
After spending a few years fighting in the streets to make enough money to provide for his family, Aponte’s sister gave him an out. She offered him a place in the United States his senior year in high school. After spending two years at a prep college, Aponte was invited to try out for coach Chad Newhard and soon after was officially a member of the Indiana Wesleyan University baseball team.
“His experiences have been good for our team, he brings a different point of view for our team, just the way he’s grown up and the experiences he’s been through,” coach Newhard said. “Nothing’s really been handed to him. He’s worked hard to be here.”
After impressing coach Newhard and the rest of the team, Aponte has been working with the Hodson Hall chaplain Cole Maxwell (so) on his walk with Christ.
“I’ve never seen someone so adamant about making his faith his own,” Maxwell said.
After a tough childhood, an incredible journey and a few new friends, Aponte is settling nicely into the IWU community. But there’s something Maxwell wants you to know: “A lot of people would read this story and say ‘He has had a tough past,’ but that doesn’t change the genuine, nice, good-hearted person that he is. He really enjoys people, he’s a genuine person.”
Aponte also made a request, mixed with a little advice.
“If they want to know something about me, just come ask me,” he said. “I just want people to know, because of where you come from or where you been or situations like that, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.”
So there you have it, an unbelievable story that shouldn’t be boxed up or labeled. It’s a story that should be shared with the world.