It’s been almost 10 years since my life was changed forever. My relationship with my cousin Mo is irreplaceable. He is someone I look up to so much. Although I was 6 years younger than him, he always liked hanging out with me. Quimi and Mo are the same age and they grew up doing everything together. We were each other’s biggest fans! We would go to Quimi’s concerts and support her and then we would support each other at all of our sports games. The best friendship. Even though we don’t get to see Mo as much as we used to, we constantly think about him and pray for him. We have memories that will last a lifetime. Today I wanted to share Mo’s story. A story about hope, tragedy, and the light and love that rules over all. A story that I will always tell because it is such a big part of my life.
When I was in California visiting family in June, I asked my Tia Lady (Mo’s mom) if she would do a little interview with me about Mo and his life.
L&T: Tell us about Mo and how he was growing up.
Angie: Mo was a big blessing. He was the cutest and nicest little boy. Since he was little he was always very respectful. He was really passive and Quimi (his bestie prima) was the opposite. When they were little anything Mo had, Quimi wanted. It was nice that he had that growing up. He was really shy, but I knew he liked basketball. Since he was a shy kid, I put him in soccer. But then later he made the decision to play basketball instead. In school every year he got student of the month, one year he got student of the year. Despite the fact that I was divorced as a single parent he grew up very stable emotionally, but we still weren’t in the Lord yet.
Angie: In 5th or 6th grade he played baseball one year and they gave him the game-winning ball because he played well. So that’s when he started to really love and play basketball.
In Junior High, he met this group of guys, Bryan, Gio, Craig, and Nick. He played basketball in Junior High and really stood out. Later when he entered high school at Riverbank High School, he met Ashlyn (another one of his very good friends). In high school, he played on the Junior Varsity team as an incoming freshman. When Mo became a Sophomore, I moved him to Turlock High School (THS). This was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. My brother Juan was the coach at Turlock and I wanted Mo to play for him. It was great because Mo started to understand the Lord more and grew as a basketball player there. Unfortunately, there were people who didn’t like how much playing time Mo was getting. People and parents would yell during the Turlock games “Take out your nephew!” I asked Mo what he felt about that, he said he just had to “shut up the critics” so he worked harder and he did shut them up.
Angie: After he graduated from THS in 2006, the coach from Colombia College came and gave him a scholarship, I told him he was too good for that, that he could play for Modesto Junior College (MJC). But he decided to take the scholarship from Colombia. He went to Colombia College the next school year and then decided to transfer to MJC and begin playing basketball there in 2007.
L&T: I’m going to hop in here to share a little background on Mo’s life just right before his accident and also explain what happened in the accident.
The Easter before summer of 2007, Mo went on a missions trip with our family and the rest of our youth group from Big Valley Grace Community Church. The fact that Mo decided to come on his own with us was a huge shock. We had been praying and asking the Lord to work in Mo for many many years. Mo finally chose to join us on this trip and you won’t believe what the Lord did. The trip was an eye opener for Mo. He was dramatically changed and I know that the Holy Spirit was so present and pushing Mo to make a huge life-altering decision. Mo gave his life to Jesus and he was saved! We were so excited for him and our hearts were filled with joy!
Mo was on fire for Jesus! He literally was non stop praying and planning on what he wanted to do when he got home from the trip. He and Quimi immediately began preparing ways to share the gospel back at home. They wanted to do outreach concerts and different events to share Jesus. It was incredible to see Mo so on fire and since I was quite younger than them I admired that so much and wanted to be a part of it.
Just after this incredible transformation took place, Mo decided to get baptized. Our Papi baptized him not too much later and it was amazing. Summer 2007 was approaching and Mo was gearing up to play basketball at MJC that fall. He began training hard and working on his game more than ever. I remember him training all day long and then sometimes coming to visit us in Turlock to hang and eat taco truck burritos from our favorite spot.
L&T: Tell us about Mo and how he was different after he was saved.
Angie: He just wanted to share the Lord with his friends, he knew that they would benefit from knowing the Lord.
In the summer of 2007 right before the accident, he would go to bible studies in the mornings, then to work, then to school. He was working out with a trainer every day and one day he came home with his hands all burnt because he was climbing a rope and he said he wanted to make it to the top. He exaggerated saying he thought he was going to die because the workouts were so hard.
I think the turning point for Mo was when he was baptized. That’s when he made the decision to live for the Lord.
These are some of the movies and shows he was into; he knew every word to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Sandlot, he loved watching Power Rangers. When he got older he loved Pistol Pete, still always watched The Sandlot, and Finding Forester.
Mo loved everyone, he didn’t care how he was treated, he loved people anyways, he didn’t care if someone was being mean to someone because he loved everyone. Everyone loved him because he had an innocence about him.
L&T: On November 29, 2007, our lives changed forever. Mo was on his way home after some shooting practice at MJC that morning. He always took the same route back to Riverbank and we usually argued with him about which way was fastest, lol. It was a two-way mini-highway, and he was probably jamming and bumping his music as always. What he didn’t know was that a woman just several cars up on the opposite side of the road was swerving in and out of her lane. He wasn’t able to see because he had 3 or 4 cars in front of him. As soon as Mo looked up he had no time to react and the woman hit him head-on. The collision happened so fast, but instantly both vehicles were totaled. The California Highway Patrol said that Mo sustained some life-threatening injuries, the woman driving the other vehicle was seriously injured but her life didn’t appear threatened. Mo was instantly taken to Memorial Hospital in Modesto. He was in critical condition after the crash and was in an instant coma.
Some words my dad told the local newspaper,
“We’re hoping he’ll come out of the coma. There’s a tube in his head draining fluid,” said Alaniz, a pastor at Big Valley Grace. “He’s a saved young man. … He loved Jesus,” Alaniz said. “He was looking forward to playing hoops at MJC.”
L&T: How are you able to stare uncertainty in the face and still have hope?
Angie: I knew that this was God’s will to allow this to happen. It was going to happen because He prepared me. He prepared me to have the strength to get through it. And Abel (her husband) wasn’t here, so I had to trust the Lord. When Abel was in Mexico I dedicated myself to all the bible studies with Juan, and he kept clarifying those questions I had, it helped me grow more and more. I’ve never felt such pain, there were times where I felt like I was going to faint and I would ask people to pray for me. At that time, I couldn’t drive my car to the hospital he was at, so a friend of mine let me stay at their house that was across the street. Emma and Jando were very young. I thank God I had all that help during that time because I don’t remember where they were. But I was just in a lot of pain. The good thing is that I knew I had to praise God in the storm and I thank Him that I didn’t go crazy because I had two kids to take care of.
When Mo was moved to Sacramento, I would drive back and forth and my car broke down twice. Since Abel wasn’t here, we tried to do all we could to see if he could come back. So we met a lawyer that fixed Abel’s papers. She did it out of the kindness of her heart, and I didn’t have a penny to give her. I know that our marriage survived because of the Lord through this.
L&T: Tell us a little bit about Mo’s health post-accident… how has it been?
Angie: In reality, he hasn’t made much progress. I just realized a few years ago that this is my new son, I pray that the Lord heal him and that ultimately, His will be done. This is His will for him right now. I tried working and going to see him every day but I realized I was going crazy, so I had to stop. Now I go on the weekends and when I am on vacation I’ll go a little more. I know that Mo would want me to invest in Jando and Emma, he would hate it if I spent all my time with him.
When Jando and Emma were little, all they remembered was me crying all the time and they would tell me that “it’s all about Mo, all the time”. I knew I had to change some things.
He loved Alejandro and Emma so much. He said Emma would be a model one day cause she was so cute, and he would discipline Jando for anything he did. They are both very much like Mauricio. Even though they don’t have it easy, they both have a really good work ethic. And I know somehow, some way, even though they were little, they were influenced by Mo, even the little bit they saw.
Mo was never embarrassed to give me a kiss, no matter who was around.
Pablo, my other older brother was so good to Mo and I. He would go see him every time he had a chance. I couldn’t believe that the Lord allowed him to pass away. He was my help, when I couldn’t go visit Mo, he would go see Mo, even after Abel came back.
He loved to watch Quimi sing and perform. People would ask him “who’s your favorite cousin Mo?” Quimi would say “I’m your favorite cousin huh Mo because You’re my favorite cousin” and in his humble way he would say yes.
When Max (our little cousin) was born he endured a very hard few months, he had to have emergency heart surgery, but Mo said, “mom lets just pray, let’s pray, everything is going to be okay” he said “let’s pray for a miracle, nothing is impossible for God”
Our job now is to go over and make sure he’s comfortable and he hears us. We know he can hear us and feel us, and he hurts. We know he is saved. When he squeezes our hands we know he can hear us. I just thank God I had all those years with him. He’s taught me so much about love, in one of his notes he wrote: “God is Truth.”
What happened to Mo has been one of the hardest things we’ve gone through. But our hope is sure, and we know that Mo’s is as well. We hold on to the comfort that the Lord is watching over him and taking care of him. We are so thankful for the strength and peace that the Lord has given our Tia Lady. We can truly see God’s faithfulness through the difficult times we’ve had throughout this journey. We hope and pray that Mo’s story will inspire others to hold on and have courage in whatever season of life you may go through. We praise Jesus for Mo’s life and we continue to worship Him for all that He’s done and all that He will continue to do.