Betances owes debt to hardworking mother

Betances owes debt to hardworking mother

NEW YORK -- Family always comes first for Dellin Betances, and one of the biggest reasons why is because his mother, Maria, worked hard to ensure her four children would stick together and help each other whenever possible.

"I think for her, the big thing is unity," Betances said. "No matter where you are, always look out for your family. We made sure that we stayed in communication with everybody, because we've always been that close."

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Betances is continuing to enjoy his New York success story, having been born in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan and developing into an All-Star reliever for the Yankees. One of the best perks has been having his parents there for every great moment along the way.

Raised in the Lillian Wald Houses on the Lower East Side, Betances said that his mother made sure that there was always food on the table and that he and his siblings stayed out of trouble while his father, Jaime, worked long hours as a livery taxi driver.

"Obviously, she's a very important lady in my life," Betances said. "She's always been there for us. She's raised four of us to try to be the strongest we can become. I have two older brothers and one younger sister, and I feel like she did a good job with just making sure we concentrate in school and the importance of being respectful."

Space was at a premium in Betances' building, where the future Yankees pitcher lived until the day he signed a professional contract at age 18. He and his older brother, Anthony, shared a bed and closet, while his brother Dioni and sister Emeline had a bunk bed in another room.

"It was hard," Betances said. "My dad tried to work and provide for us as much as he could. My mom worked to a certain age; I felt like once I was in high school she stopped working and was more of a housewife. Making sure we were eating good, making sure everything we wanted we had, as best as we could."

Betances said that he remembers his mother pushing him to showing respect to his elders and to pay attention as much as possible in his classes at Brooklyn's Grand Street Campus High School.

"We didn't grow up in the best areas, but she always tried to make sure school was important, family's important," Betances said. "Just be respectful and try to stay out of trouble."

Growing up in a crowded household meant that Betances always had people to play with. In fact, his brothers pushed him to play baseball -- he had been too afraid of the ball to take it seriously. Betances' mother encouraged the children to spend time outside, but she kept a close eye on them.

"She was strict, to a certain extent," he said. "I think she'd make sure we weren't out late, she'd make sure we were doing the right things. We were always active, all of us. We were playing baseball, basketball, playing together in the parks around the house I lived in. We were always together no matter what, so me being young, I wasn't allowed to go out late on my own. If I was going somewhere, I had to have my brothers with us."

Looking back, Betances said that he recognizes that his parents did the best they could with what they had, and for that he is forever grateful. In 2006, he used part of his signing bonus to buy his parents a house in New Jersey's Bergen County.

He is blessed to call Yankee Stadium his office, but Betances is just as proud of his siblings. Their success in a variety of fields -- accounting, for the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority and in real estate -- and close relationships continue to be a daily credit to Maria Betances' influence.

This Mother's Day, Betances plans to tell his mother, "I always love her and I just want to make her as proud as I can. Every day I work as hard as I can just to show them that I'm trying to be successful in what I do. All of us try to be successful in whatever lane we're in to make our mom proud."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.