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The extraordinary journey of Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Our latest column; plus Wade's 'Last Dance' gets its signature moment, a personal note & more


1) It's THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28 through SUNDAY, MARCH 3. Farewell February and a hearty welcome, March! 2) A fond bon voyage to colleague and friend Clark Spencer, the Herald 's Marlins beat writer who has retired after a long career in sports writing. Great at what he did, and an even better person. 3) Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): New sports-business tome and Top 50 breakthrough moments, NBA best-under-25 list snubs Heat, What's Ridiculous In Sports & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

A personal note: We're off on holiday for a few days through the weekend, so look for the new Hot Button Top 10 here on Monday upon our return, one day later than usual. 

JoserTHE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF JOSE DE JESUS RODRIGUEZ: I have been chronicling sports since the 1970s and have met and written about hundreds of athletes more famous but maybe none more extraordinary than golfer Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. I met him Wednesday, and wrote the column linked here, just below. He is a PGA Tour rookie at age 38, competing in this week's Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens. At age 15 he left his home in central Mexico, made his way more than 500 miles to the border, and after months of trying finally crossed the Rio Grande into the United States, convinced golf would be the way he might lift his family from poverty. He arrived "illegally" but today has a proper work visa and a bright future. He learned the game with homemade clubs made of rebar shafts, inner-tube-rubber grips and clubheads of shaped metal. It was an impossible dream that came true. The American dream. Had a border wall been there, he'd have never have made it. His story is enough to make you glad there was no wall. And to consider that for every bad guy a wall might turn away, how many honest dreamers like this might also be denied. An excerpt from the column: The Mexican side of the border is rife with smugglers who’ll get you across, but Jose had not nearly enough money for that. He would have to do it himself. In the black of night, the boy who could not swim tried to make his way across the famous river only to be intercepted, again, by the U.S. Border Patrol. For months this went on, until finally Jose heard the Border Patrol changed shift at 2 p.m. In that sliver of time, he crossed. He made it. He was in America. The water that night was up to his chin. The currents shoved him. “I’m dying in the Rio Grande,” he recalled thinking. “I’m saying, ‘God help me. I want to help my family.” To read the full column, please visit Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour.

Our other most recent columns: The Evolution Of Sports Into Big Business / Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done / Zion Should Say See-Ya Duke and Shut It Down / Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye / Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild / Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed / He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too / Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins.

DwadeWADE'S 'LAST DANCE' GETS ITS SIGNATURE MOMENT: Maybe the Heat's Dwyane Wade still has something in store to top Wednesday night, but it's hard to imagine what we just saw can be topped. Wade, in his 'Last Dance' farewell season before retirement, hits a last-second, buzzer-beating 3-point bank-shot prayer on the home court to beat mighty Golden State, 126-125. That slumping Miami needed a win badly only accentuated the moment. Fans roared in merry disbelief. Teammates engulfed Wade with love -- but only after he hopped onto a scorer's table and faced the cheering fans. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant watched it all, standing shoulder to shoulder. Curry wore a small smile. "Those are iconic moments that he's had," Curry said later, in admiration. Said Wade: "It's special for me." The long chronology of magic moments that D.Wade his authored just got its exclamation point.

Select other recent columns: Taking On NFL Cost Costas His Job, But Not His Integrity / The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019 / The Redemption Of Manny Diaz / Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble / Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote