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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami Dolphins linebacker with Cuban-American roots opened up about how the death of Fidel Castro has impacted his family.
Kiko Alonso’s father is Cuban, so it has been an emotional week for that side of his family.
Alonso, who was raised in California, has gotten more in tune with his Cuban heritage while playing in Miami.
The Miami Dolphin told CBS4’s Kim Bokamper today that Castro’s death reminded him of the exodus first made my his grandfather from Cuba.
“He left when he was four, and my grandfather basically had to start from scratch. Like he had to completely leave all of the stuff, go to Puerto Rico and restart,” Alonso explained.
Bokamper then asked him what his reaction was like when he first heard the news of the former Cuban leader’s passing.
“My first thought was it was good, and just surprised,” Alonso explained. “But just to hear my dad talk, and, you know, other family members… he caused a lot of deaths, a lot of suffering, so, you know, I think the world is probably a better place without him.”
News of Castro’s death broke at midnight on the day Alonso’s Dolphins would face off against the San Francisco 49ers.
It was a game that had extra meaning for the Cuban-American linebacker because San Fran’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, had made some controversial comments supporting Castro’s Cuba.
Wearing a T-shirt that featured a photo of Castro at a press conference prior to the game, Kaepernick said Castro would “invest more in their education system than in our prison system, which we do not do here [in the United States].”
Fans booed Kaepernick from the moment the game started to the very last play.
“Were you surprised at the reaction of the Cuban community to Colin Kaepernick?” Bokamper asked Alonso.
“No, I wasn’t surprised. I know Cubans are passionate people, and especially toward something like that. That really hit home for them, because that guy [Castro] has really affected all their lives,” he said. “A lot of people have lost loved ones due to that guy [Castro] and maybe had to leave family who are still back in Cuba, so I not surprised at all.”
Alonso is being hailed as the “Hialeah Hero” by the Cuban community for his big hit on Kaepernick that sealed Miami’s win.
To show solidarity with his Cuban-American roots, Alonso also wore a bandana after Sunday’s game which represented the Cuban and American flag.