Gracia’s reassessment suggested a number of important questions. When a young athlete commits an egregious act, where should punishment intersect with compassion? Does the athlete deserve a second chance? And how does a teenager begin again after facing nationwide disgust and cancellation?
‘He’s just starting his life.’
Even while he lay dazed on the field, Fred Gracia said in an interview, he forgave Durón. He is glad, he said, that Durón seems to have a chance to rescue a self-sabotaged athletic career. Gracia said he also faced the law as a younger man, spending 24 hours in jail after he was arrested on a drunken-driving charge in 1990. In that moment, he said, he found himself. Perhaps, Durón will find himself, too.
“I wish him the best,” Gracia said in the interview, conducted by video last week. “I hope he’s made peace with himself. He’s just starting his life.”
In trying to put the incident behind them, Gracia and Durón have much in common. Both have struggled to sleep at times. Both have grown weary of the public stares, the whispers of recognition, the dreaded question: Are you that guy?
“I’m trying my hardest to forget everything and be someone in life,” Durón said last week in his first interview since the December attack. “I want people to see the real me. I’m not just a kid who did something wrong.”
He spoke at his home after a day of rain left his neighborhood flooded. Visitors had to be ferried in and out in pickup trucks. His father, who is also named Emmanuel and erects scaffolding at refineries, sat on a sofa in the living room and spoke of the importance of his son becoming the first person in the family to attend college. Durón’s lawyer, Jose Antonio Solis, stood in the room and repeated a familiar admonition.