Famed pro-baseball player and manager Ozzie Guillen came to the United States from Caracas, Venezuela, when he was 16-years-old and later became a U.S. citizen on his 42nd birthday — a feeling he still remembers fondly.
“It’s special,” said a teary-eyed Guillen during a White Sox pre-game interview. “People, they don’t know how hard that is. How many people die… How many people want to be American. It’s [an] honor for me.”
An emotional Ozzie Guillén reflects on the day he became an American citizen in 2006.
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) July 4, 2021
Guillen, who played for the Chicago White Sox from 1985 to 2000, became a U.S. citizen in January of 2006 — 26 years after arriving to America.
Asked where the emotion was coming from, Guillen responded, “I don’t know,” and expressed his thanks for the opportunities provided in America.
“Opportunities, man,” Guillen said. “Opportunity opened the door for me and have been great. I’ve been living in this country for a long time, me and my family — at a great cost. It opened the door for them to be who they are.
“I’m a very tough guy, but seeing that, I know how it means to me and my family,” Guillen said of a video that showed him receiving his citizenship.
In 2012, during his tenure as manager for the Miami Marlins, Guillen faced scrutiny — and was later suspended — for expressing his opinion on Fidel Castro. In comments made to Time Magazine, Guillen said, “I love Fidel Castro.” He later altered his remarks to say “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but (he) is still there.”
Following those remarks, Guillen said, “What I was trying to say is that a person who has been in power for so long and has hurt so many people can still be in power.”
“I’m not blaming the journalist, I’m blaming myself,” he added.
The video of an emotional and thankful Guillen was shared to Twitter, where the former Major League Baseball player said, “Yes iam emotional this country open the door for me and my family thanks America.”