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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A day after the community was able to say their final farewell, Marlins Ace Jose Fernandez was laid to rest during a private funeral in Miami.
Those who were close to Fernandez, said their final goodbyes and shared kind words about their friend, teammate and family member.
“We weren’t supposed to be here today. As you know we lost a giant….his story was representative of and inspiring to millions,” said Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria during the mass at St. Brendan Catholic Church on Thursday. “He set the standard for making baseball fun. You know, Jose’s impact was global.”
“That smile hit you. It was the window of his soul. Oh he had the unbelievable ability but that smile opened a door to him – a beacon of light,” said Fernandez’s Agent Scott Boras while in tears during the ceremony.
Boras had a message for Jose.
“Jose your smile is eternal. It’s forever all of our visions of you,” said Boras.
More than an hour before the funeral mass was set to begin, dozens filed into the church including some big names in the sports and entertainment world. Latin singer Marc Anthony sat just a few people away from Loria.
Some big names in Major League Baseball were seen walking in like Former Miami Marlins manager Jack McKeon who was managing the team when they won the world series in 2003.
The family – including Fernandez’s mother, grandmother and pregnant girlfriend – walked into the church just before 1:30 p.m. shortly after Fernandez’s casket was carried in.
Marlins player Martin Prado gave the first reading.
In a heartbreaking moment during the ceremony, Fernandez’s mother and grandmother went up to a picture of Fernandez appearing to pray and cry while his mother held on tight to a large cross.
The funeral mass was held in the same spot where Fernandez’s rose-covered casket was laid out so hundreds if not thousands could pay their final respects to Fernandez just a day before.
A public procession honored the 24-year-old who was killed in boat crash over the weekend.
The public procession took off from Marlins Park but before that his teammates surrounded the hearse for one last moment to honor him at 2:16 p.m.
From there, the hearse carrying his remains made its way to La Ermita de la Caridad for a blessing ceremony. His family including his mother, grandmother and the public stood by as the priest blessed the casket in front of the church which is very important to the Cuban community and possibly to Fernandez who arrived in the U.S. from Cuba in 2008.
The procession then made its way to St. Brendan Catholic Church – stopping for a moment by Cuban restaurant La Caretta (8650 Bird Road) for a flag tribute honoring Fernandez and the Cuban-American community. Fans and employees raised cups of ‘cafecito’ in his honor.
The public later lined up around the block to pay their final respects to Fernandez at St. Brendan Catholic Church well into the night – even past the 11 p.m. closing time.
“You could feel his presence. You could feel his presence in there. It was just amazing,” Grisel Socorro told CBS4’s Hank Tester.
As Fernandez was laid to rest, investigators are trying to find out what caused the crash that killed him and his friends 27-year-old Emilio Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero.
White paint marks could be seen on the rocky jetty where Fernandez’s boat crashed early Sunday and discovered around 3:30 a.m. Just an hour earlier, a picture taken of him showed him at the American Social Bar and Grill in Miami.
Investigators are trying to speak to people who saw him in his last hours.
Fernandez’s boat was believed to be going at high speed right before the crash. They say no one was wearing a life jacket. Toxicology tests on the bodies are pending.
In lieu of flowers, the Fernandez family requests charitable contributions to the JDF16 Foundation at the Miami Foundation.