Al Horford’s upbringing helped him cross paths with a pair of Boston sports legends.
The Boston Celtics forward was born in the Dominican Republic, and his friendship with former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is well-documented. The two Dominican Republic natives first met during Horford’s rookie season in 2008 and have been pals ever since.
But before Horford even met Ortiz, his family connections brought him close to one of Big Papi’s best friends: ex-Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez.
As the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy reported Tuesday, Martinez actually befriended Horford’s mother, Arelis Reynoso, while he was playing for the Montreal Expos. When Reynoso married Horford’s father, legendary Dominican basketball player Tito Horford, Martinez became a “non-blood uncle” to young Al.
In short: Martinez knows Horford quite well and offered a glimpse into the veteran big man’s personality.
“He’s always been quiet, with a beautiful smile,” Martinez told Murphy. “There’s an angel in that big man. Kind of shy, to be honest.”
Horford’s quiet leadership appeared to fit well during his first season in Boston. The 31-year-old stuffed the stat sheet with 14.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and a career-high 5.0 assists per game while serving as a stable presence for the eventual No. 1 seed Celtics.
“I knew he would adjust to Boston,” Martinez said. “I knew the atmosphere here would make him feel welcome. I know the kind of kid that (Tito and Arelis) raised.”
Horford wasn’t perfect this season, though, and often drew criticism for not being aggressive enough in the scoring and rebounding departments. But Pedro thinks his “nephew” will be just fine.
“I wouldn’t panic with this kid,” Martinez added. “It’s all about his heart and IQ. He’s very dedicated to his work. When he got hurt (with a concussion) this year, you saw it. He came back with a vengeance. If he’s fine, he’s going to perform. His mind is never wandering out there. He’ll be fine here.
“This is good for him. There’s no better place to do something special than to do it in Boston.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images