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Angels draft Astros Youth Academy star Nelson

Center fielder fulfills promise made to mother before her death
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Daryl Wade almost missed the call that sent him to his truck so he could cry privately.

Late Tuesday night, after orchestrating summer camps and games at the Astros' Youth Academy, Wade had already showered and fallen asleep on the couch.

HOUSTON -- Daryl Wade almost missed the call that sent him to his truck so he could cry privately.

Late Tuesday night, after orchestrating summer camps and games at the Astros' Youth Academy, Wade had already showered and fallen asleep on the couch.

Then Drevian Nelson called.

"And then my phone rang. It was him," said Wade, the director of the Astros' Youth Academy. "He said, 'Coach, coach, they told me they're going to be calling tomorrow.'"

With their 14th-round selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, the Angels selected Nelson with the 421st overall selection, fulfilling a promise made to his late mother.

Nelson's story -- which he told in a 2017 award-winning essay under the "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life" program, a baseball-themed education program developed by Major League Baseball and Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson's daughter and MLB educational consultant -- was written as a testimony for how baseball can help a fractured life while inspiring others.

"After she passed, it was a struggle," said Nelson, a center fielder from North Shore High School, on Wednesday. "I promised her I would play Major League Baseball someday. Ever since then, I never stopped working."

"I know this is my passion. This is my purpose and this is what I've got to do in order to be able to let her know that I appreciate everything she did while she was here and that it's going to pay off."

As Nelson wrote in the essay, his mother, Donna Yvette Williams, died of cancer when he was 11 years old on June 7, 2011. Nelson, now 18, was selected by the Angels a day before the seventh anniversary of her passing.

"I really got to see what that kid had been through, and it made me even closer to him," Wade said. "You can hear about kids' parents passing away. But when you really go through it step by step with what he went through, it made me closer to him. From then on, it was just like he was my other son."

Shortly after being drafted on Wednesday, Nelson, who will wear pink wristbands and accessories while playing to pay tribute to his late mother, tweeted: "MOMMA I DID IT"

Tweet from @DrevianNelson24: MOMMA I DID IT🙏🙏🙏 https://t.co/UGN7AYmIjE

Earlier this year while funneling through boxes of sneakers given to the Youth Academy, Wade found two sets of pink shoes in Nelson's size.

Wade texted Nelson a photo of the shoes.

"You want these shoes?" he asked.

Nelson hustled over and picked up the shoes.

"He must've thanked me six times," Wade said. "'Thank you, coach. Thank you, coach.' He's just a great young man.

"I'm happy for him. I'm happy for his mom. I know she's not here. But as a father myself, you want the best for your kids even after you're gone."

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.

Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros