The 16-year-old son of a former University of Miami baseball star was killed in a single car crash Saturday night
The Columbus Explorers and Belen Jesuit Wolverines will renew their football rivalry on Friday night.
But when the game kicks off from Tropical Park at 7 p.m., there will be a sense of unity between Miami’s two all-boys private Catholic schools.
That’s because both teams will come together and honor Columbus football and baseball player Ari Arteaga, who died in a single-car crash on July 28. Ari would have been a junior this year and a safety for the Explorers, who are 3-1 heading into Friday’s game and have state championship hopes.
“The passing of Ari Arteaga has really impacted our Columbus family,” Brother Kevin Handibode, the president of Christopher Columbus High, said in a press release. “Although Ari will not physically be at the game on Friday, we know that his spirit will be watching over both teams and everyone present. May Ari continue to be the light that brings unity and inspiration to our community. Our prayers are with Ari’s family and friends.”
Both teams will wear helmet decals with the number 30, which is the number Ari would have worn this season. Belen Jesuit quarterback Dorian Gonzalez, a close friend of Ari’s, will also wear No. 30 on Friday instead of his usual No. 7.
“When a tragedy strikes either team, there is no Columbus or Belen, just brothers,” Belen Jesuit president Father Guillermo Garcia-Tunon, SJ, said. “The death of Ari Arteaga has not only impacted the Explorer nation, but the Wolverine nation as well. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Arteaga family. On Friday, when both teams take the field, we will be united both in our sorrow and by our love.”
Ari’s parents, JD and Ysha Arteaga, have since created the Ari Arteaga Foundation with the mission “to spread his spirit by helping children and families overcome obstacles they may face due to unforeseen hardships.” T-shirts featuring both school logos and the foundation’s logo, along with other memorabilia, will be sold at the game with proceeds going to the foundation.
The Explorers previously held a ceremony honoring Ari prior to their season-opening 35-0 win over Mater Academy. Four of Ari’s closest friends on the team — Patrick Silva, Jorge de la Pedraja, Demetrius Ford and Lucas Medina — presented Ari’s parents with a white No. 30 jersey and a signed team picture. The team has also worn helmet decals displaying Ari’s name all season.