Angel was born on October 14, 1989. At very a young age, he was crowned "Baby Tucson" - a big accomplishment his family was very proud of. His older sister Grace and older brother David worked hard to help by walking the neighborhoods knocking on doors, asking people for their support in honor of their baby brother. They were very proud of their brother, and their hard work paid off when Angel received his title.
It didn't take long for Angel to become a charmer, with his beautiful smile, deep dimples on each cheek, curly locks, and not to mention he was often seen stylin new Jordan's and a fresh White Sox hat. Dressing sharp was something his father from Chicago instilled in him from birth.
He was a warm & big hearted kid from the start of his life. His family was very important to him and he was always working to make everyone happy. He was very independent, and a hard worker that enjoyed helping others where needed, but made sure he took good care of himself as well. As a young boy, he loved to comb his own hair making sure his curly "scraunchie" was in proper place. He also didn't hesitate to make sure he got approval from his older sister Melissa every night as he picked out his outfit for the next day of school. He always wanted to insure that everything matched and was looking sharp. He also learned to cook his favorite foods at an early age and was very proud of it.
As he entered school and became familiar with different sports, he acquired a love for basketball immediately. So much so that in one of his early school projects, he wrote and drew a picture saying "When I grow up... I want to be a basketball player". It was love at first sight and from then on, much of his spare time was spent playing basketball, either on the courts or at home behind a bedroom door. He also played baseball for a few years for Western Little League, with his younger brother Michael, who he was inseparable from, and always protected. Angel had an arm on him and could gun any other player out from a long distance. So it came as no surprise then they made him a catcher. However, it was his passion for basketball that followed him from his childhood to later in life.
Growing up on the west side of Tucson, he became a regular at El Rio Neighborhood Center. Eventually Angel met Paul Natividad, a recreational worker there who witnessed his talent in basketball and recruited him for "The Show". Being a member of this elite group was his pride and joy. One of his favorite parts was being able to travel with this group. Angel passed along to his love of basketball to his youngest brother, Issac. Angel was very proud, and loved Issac very much.
Angel was not only a talented kid in sports, he was a good student as well. His name appeared on the honor roll list many times. His mother Elizabeth Martinez and father Angel Martinez Sr. were very proud of him.
Angel enjoyed attending car/ bike shows with his older brother David & younger brother Michael. The three brothers would eventually become a team with "Raza Unida", along side group leader Lillian Robles, and the rest of the crew. Soon David passed along his custom lowrider bike with an amazing mural of a wizard (wise man), white tigers and feathers to the younger brothers, Angel & Michael, after David retired his name at the competitions. Immediately the younger brothers continued to carry on the success by obtaining 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in most of the big car shows in town and out of town. David recalls, "I can still remember the huge smile Angel would have at each show, waiting for the announcer to call out the winners. And how he would jump in excitement when his name and Michael's name were announced."
Around this same period in his life we realized Angel also had a strong love for music and every aspect of it. For Christmas on year he begged older siblings Grace, David & Melissa to get him a microphone and a keyboard so he could start making his own music. And when he got his gift, the smile on his face was priceless. From then on, anyone who knew Angel, knew that he enjoyed writing his own lyrics, and would not hold back on rapping his favorite lines no matter where he was.
He also dreamed of one day starting his own clothing line, Regime. He spent a lot of time designing his logo and designing clothes. This is a dream of Angels' that his family hopes to carry on with one day!
Angel was all about his family and was very close to each and every one of them. However, he was an especially proud Uncle to his nephews Fabien, Kiki, Davian & Joshua and niece Enelisa. He could always be counted on to be a sitter for them when needed, and would rather watch and care for them himself instead of having them go to daycare. It's no surprise to our family that little Joshie & Enelisa are still often visited by their Tio. And it's not a family get together without the older boys remembering the infamous White Sox game their Tio took them out of school to go see.
Although Angel was taken from us at a young age, his maturity level was higher than most. He worked at the El Rio Neighborhood Center in high school (Tucson High) and was an example to many children there. He continued his studies at Pima College and dreamed of one day becoming an engineer. He often reminded all of us that he was on a different level, and his thoughts and words were one of a kind in their own unique sense. In one of many writings, he mentioned, "I want to leave something behind through my writing or in my music that will inspire the world through change".
It is evident now, what a true Angel and inspiration he was to so many, and so much has been left behind by Angel. The love and respect he showed for so many has shown itself through many of his family, friends, and within his beloved Westside Community. So much so that he's become an icon or great leader. Many have chosen show their respect and admiration for Angel through their writings, or through ink and memorial tats. We know all this is not common, but then Angel wasn't just your average kid. His love was unconditional to many and it is evident that it continues to grow within us all. The day that Angel was taken from us, a piece of each of us was taken with him. We continue to celebrate Angel through this Annual Basketball Tournament, allowing all who loved him to continue to give back and offer "change" to the less fortunate families in the Westside Community... his pride and joy!