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UCF Athletics | September 9, 2015

UCF guard Adonys Henriquez stays close to home for his younger brother

  Adonys Henriquez says his younger brother Anthony, who suffers from kidney disease, is his biggest motivator.

ORLANDO, Fla.-- It’s the question journalism students are taught to ask in every interview.

“Is there anything I didn’t ask about that you’d like to share?”

More often than not, the source declines. But every once in a while, this one question produces a story.

And on July 29, when Adonys Henriquez was asked that question by the students of WPC Camp Orlando, a statewide scholastic journalism workshop, the Orlando native decided he had something to share.

“I just felt like it was time to tell people the story,” Henriquez said. “Everybody wants to know why hometown kids stay home.”

The answer is inked across the inside of his left wrist: Anthony.

Anthony, 18, is Adonys’ younger brother, and he has suffered from kidney failure since birth. He has undergone two transplants and has been on dialysis for the last year.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the University High senior walks into Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to attend four-hour sessions of the treatment. He usually brings homework, watches BET or VH1 and sometimes plays Xbox with his older brother by his side.

It’s one of the reasons Anthony admires Adonys so much.

“The way that he treats me,” he replied when asked what makes Adonys a good big brother. “Like there’s nothing wrong with me.”

Now a rising sophomore on UCF’s men’s basketball team, Adonys was headed for Miami a couple years ago. He came home one day and told his younger brother he had made up his mind.

But Anthony suggested he look into a few other schools, preferably ones closer to home. Now, Anthony attends every game at CFE Arena, occupying his usual spot across from the team bench, to watch his brother drain 3-pointers.

Adonys has never been a fan of tattoos. One day, six months ago, he impulsively decided to go get one with a friend. He thought about what really meant enough to him to permanently put on his body.

That’s when Anthony popped into his head.

“I feel like this way he is always by me when I’m playing ball. The left hand leads to the heart,” Henriquez said. “I am trying to represent myself and him at all times.”

Anthony said he found out about the tattoo when Adonys sent him a picture of it. When Anthony asked him why, Adonys simply told him he loved him.

Anthony wanted to reciprocate the gesture but after consulting with his doctors, he realized getting a tattoo wasn’t feasible with his condition.

“The best thing I can do is put a picture on my (cell phone) wallpaper and just say I love him that way too,” he said.

Up until recently, their bond was known mostly by their family and a few close friends. Then Adonys decided to go public.

The workshop was held in a conference room at the Doubletree International Drive by Sea World. Adonys sat at a table in front of the group of students armed with their laptops, just as he would at a post-game press conference.

The best written story produced from that day’s interview session would possibly be published in the Orlando Sentinel.

They asked him about basketball. They asked about his family. They asked about religion. They asked about transitioning from high school to college.

And then they asked if there was anything he wanted to share.

Three weeks later, Adonys and Anthony's mother was brought to tears reading a story in the Orlando Sentinel written by Robinson High School’s Emily Draper and Isabel Hanewicz.

“It felt good to go over there and share some experience with them – something that I go through and he goes through,” Adonys said. “I think it was well written. I really appreciate everybody who did it for me. It was the first time the world got to see or hear about everything.”

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