by Cody Cunningham

Headline

EMBRACING HERITAGE
Devin Booker connects with Valley community through their shared Hispanic roots

“It's Hispanic Heritage Month. I think this is a beautiful time to embrace our culture and love it with a passion,” Devin Booker said.

As the Valley’s oldest and most historic professional sports team, the Phoenix Suns have continuously strived to represent and connect with the surrounding Hispanic community that makes up the largest demographic in Phoenix. That Hispanic culture is seen both in the stands and throughout the fan base, but what many might not know, is that the Suns also represent Hispanic heritage on the court.

Booker has come to embrace the Mexican side of his family as the support of the Valley’s culture has driven him to educate himself more on his family’s background and learn more about his lineage.

“When I was drafted by Phoenix, I finally got to see the Hispanic culture around me for the first time in my life,” Booker said. “You drive around the city, you look into the stands at the game and you see it. That made me want to learn about myself much more honestly because I just hadn't been around. Being here in Phoenix has made me aware of living in the culture.”

Devin Booker: Hispanic Heritage Month

Booker’s grandfather immigrated from Nogales, Mexico, to Michigan where the 2020 All-Star ultimately grew up. After the passing of his grandfather, Booker made it an emphasis to get intact with his heritage and the surrounding Valley community gave him the perfect environment to do so.

“My relationship with my grandfather was unbelievable,” Booker said. “He was very supportive of everything that I did and still do today. A couple of things that I learned from my grandfather were about the hard work and dedication to a craft. Also, being the support for your family and being the backbone of your family and how important that is.”

The more Booker researched his Hispanic background, the more he saw the similarities between his own ideals and the Mexican heritage within his bloodline. Family has always been first and foremost in Booker’s life and seeing that embracement of family values within the Hispanic community has only helped Booker admire and connect to his ancestry.

“My favorite part about being Mexican is the culture and being a part of the heritage,” Booker said. “Every day has been a learning process for me. With family being the most important thing to me, it’s also very embraced in the Mexican culture. That's something that's been with me in my blood since birth.”

Booker is now able to reflect on some of his most memorable moments growing up, many of which share close Mexican ties with his family.

“Some of my favorite times as a child was my mom whipping up her original Mexican dishes that she learned from her father, or when we got the chance to visit my grandpa on the weekends in his city and having him cook for us,” Booker said. “Those were the most enjoyable moments - just sitting down, family time and enjoying some really good food.”

As Booker has become more outspoken about his heritage, he has begun to see the younger Hispanic community embrace him as an inspiration and reach out to him to show their support and admiration.

“I think the moment everybody found out that I had Mexican in my bloodline, I got on social media and started seeing younger kids of the Hispanic descent reaching out to me and saying, 'You're my favorite player. If you're Mexican and you made it to the NBA, I can too,’” Booker said. “So, just trying to inspire in that type of way and keep representing the heritage. Let these kids know that, especially with the NBA today, it's not one race. It's not one culture. You have people from all over with extreme talent. Knowing that you're capable of doing that and seeing somebody in front of you that has done it before, I know it can be inspiring. So, that's my job.”

Booker is aware that representing the Hispanic community in the NBA carries some pressure and is fully embracing the opportunity to prove that with a focused mindset and a strong work ethic, anything is possible no matter what race or nationality.

“My journey and my path, I hope it opens up something in their minds to let them know that they're capable of doing exactly what I've done,” Booker said. "I'm not going to say it's easy, there's going to be a lot of ups and downs, but just knowing it's possible. If you have a dream and you have the work ethic to match that dream, anything is possible.”

 

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