Big Papi still feels void left by mom's passing

Big Papi still feels void left by mom's passing

BOSTON -- David Ortiz is full of life, full of joy and, yes, full of big hits. It's hard to think of much that could make Boston's gregarious slugger happier about his lot in life.

But there is one thing that would have made Big Papi feel even more fulfilled: having his mother around to witness all he's accomplished.

Ortiz has been without his mother for just over a decade. Angela Rosa Arias died in a car crash in the Dominican Republic in January 2002.

While Ortiz will be playing baseball at Fenway Park on Sunday, Mother's Day, you can be sure he will take some time to reflect on his mother and all she meant to him.

"Always," Ortiz said. "It's a part of my life -- especially on days like this that are coming up, you just have memories. It's hard to just forget about her."

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For Ortiz, Mother's Day is hardly a sad day. He will spend it with his wife Tiffany, who he's been with since his days as a Minor Leaguer, and three children he beams with pride over.

If only his mother could have been around to see all he's accomplished, not to mention the family he's raised.

But with a stunning tattoo of his mother's face on his left biceps and "RIP" inscribed right underneath the image, Ortiz never has to look far to see her.

The last season Angela Rosa Arias saw her son play baseball was 2001. He would play one more year in Minnesota before blossoming into a star in 2003 -- his first season with the Red Sox.

His mom missed the two World Series-winning parties, not to mention all those walk-off hits authored by her son.

"It stinks, but things happen for a reason, you know?" Ortiz said. "I believe in God a lot, and you never know. She might be a big part of me being successful. She might be taking me in the right direction without me ... knowing. And even after God, she might protect me from doing things that aren't in my favor."

Each time Ortiz goes deep, he does the same thing after crossing home plate. Both of his index fingers go skyward.

"I'm thanking God, and her," Ortiz said.

The way Ortiz describes his mother, it's pretty apparent she would have become a face Red Sox Nation would have come to know.

"I have the exact same personality she had," Ortiz said. "My mom was just like me. She got along with everyone. She would change people's minds. She was special."

And make no mistake about it -- she helped mold a man who is one of the most popular in Red Sox history.

"She was the homemaker. She was the masterpiece," Ortiz said. "She was the one who ran the show at the house. My mom, she didn't play games. She wanted me to be well educated and good at things."

In trying to maintain success at the Major League level while also dedicating time to his family and other endeavors, Ortiz wishes he still had his mom to bounce his thoughts off of.

"I wish I could still have her here with me because sometimes you act like you have [everything] figured out. But your parents are the ones who let you know how to do things better," Ortiz said. "My mom was good at that. It was a major loss."

Ortiz still gets chills when he thinks of his sudden loss. Nothing can prepare someone for losing a parent -- especially one who was just 46 at the time of her passing.

"I was driving my dad back to his house in the Dominican when it happened," Ortiz said. "My sister and her boyfriend at the time, they found out first. They were on the way back to the house and on the highway, they saw the accident and they saw my mom. They called me and I was ... oh yeah, it was hard, man."

How did he get through it?

"I don't know, that's a good question," Ortiz said. "But you never really get through it. It wasn't easy."

Ortiz -- who maintains an extremely close relationship with his father -- can hardly believe he's been without his mom for a decade.

"The time has gone fast," Ortiz said.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.