When Celtics forward Al Horford was about 10 years old, he traveled from the Dominican Republic to Miami with his mother, Arelis Reynoso, to watch the Montreal Expos face the Marlins.
Reynoso was a sports journalist and she had come to interview Montreal pitcher Pedro Martinez, the Dominican baseball star who would go on to help the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series. Martinez did not have much time for the interview that day, though, and when he made that clear, Horford came to his mother’s defense.
“Now that I’m a pro athlete, I get it,” Horford said. “But at the time I was like, ‘Hey, that’s not nice, Pedro. We came a long way to see you.’ ”
Martinez relented and did the interview, and now he counts both Reynoso and Horford as friends. Growing up as the son of a sportswriter gave Horford a rare glimpse at the world he would one day enter, long before he turned into an NBA All-Star.
He would join his mother at Dominican winter league baseball games, motocross events, beach volleyball matches, and other events.
“I was exposed to a lot of different sports and environments through her work,” Horford said. “It felt like it gave me a wide vision of that area, just being a professional athlete and kind of seeing what it takes. So for me it was very beneficial growing up in those surroundings.”
Horford found his mother’s work so enchanting that he told her he wanted to become a television producer someday. He would carry her microphones and other equipment for her and help however he could.
“She’s always been a really hard worker and as a journalist always finding her way, trying to find the answers, and at times not taking no for an answer,” Horford said. “It’s a little different than here in the US, but it was always good to see her take such pride in her job and what she does.”
Horford had a view of the other side of pro sports, too. His father Tito played in Dominican professional basketball leagues after his brief NBA career ended.
“There’d be days I was in the locker room with my dad doing media, and there’d be other days that I’d be with my mom in the press box and just kind of looking at stuff from that point of view,” Horford said. “I’d see guys writing stories after the game and stuff like that. So it was cool to me to see both sides.”
Last season, the Boston chapter of the Professional Basketball Writers Association named Horford the winner of the Jeff Twiss Award, which is given to the Celtic who is most accessible, professional, and helpful while interacting with the media.