Senior guard Tabitha Gonzalez is often regarded for her mental toughness on the Ferguson girls’ basketball team.
Being praised for her bravery isn’t anything new for Gonzalez.
“I remember when I was 2 years old, people kept telling me I was stronger than 10-year-old boys,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez had no choice but to be brave at that age.
Not long after her second birthday, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells.
Gonzalez spent most of the next three years in and out of hospitals undergoing chemotherapy and sometimes being awakened at night to take necessary medication.
Three years later, Gonzalez went into remission and has been cancer-free since.
“I was little, but I still remember the smile on my mom’s face the day they said I wasn’t sick anymore,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, who was born and raised in Miami with her parents Roxana and Carlos, has learned to beat the odds on the basketball court ever since.
Years after growing up playing against boys older than her in youth leagues in Kendall, and hoping to emulate her older brother, Mikhail — a former Ferguson basketball player — Gonzalez became a starter at Ferguson four years ago a year after the team had gone winless.
Gonzalez has since been instrumental in the team’s turnaround during that span from a winless team to its first regional playoff appearance.
Gonzalez, along with junior guard Annie Osceola (18.3 points, four rebounds, five assists per game), senior guard Nachale De Jesus (14 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) and junior forward Kamaria Johnson (10.4 points, eight rebounds), will lead the Falcons against South Miami on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in a Region 4-8A semifinal at the Cobras’ gym.
“That kid had cancer at such a young age and has been battling since then, and she’s been better ever since,” Ferguson coach Gabriel Lazo said. “Kids like her are hard to come by because of the talent they have and the hard work they put in on the court and in school.”
Gonzalez has already drawn interest from local schools such as Barry and Nova Southeastern.