Skip to content

Mexican-American boy returns for NBA encore in famous mariachi suit

Sebastien de la Cruz, "El Charro de Oro" (13679)
Sebastien de la Cruz, “El Charro de Oro”

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. — In less than 48 hours, Sebastien de la Cruz has become a household name.

The 11-year-old Mexican-American boy’s singing of the national anthem in his mariachi outfit caused a stir during game 3 of the NBA finals in his San Antonio hometown Tuesday.

On Thursday night, the Spurs decided to bring back “El Charro de Oro” for an encore performance.

Even though he was the subject of racist comments on Twitter, the San Antonio native was again wearing a mariachi outfit, according to Carlos Manzanillo, corporate communications manager at San Antonio Spurs. Manzanillo had no comment on why the Spurs decided to bring back Sebastien.

Sebastien was introduced by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who stressed how proud he was by his talent and composure over the past few days.

Castro said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich expressed disdain for the “idiots” who posted the bigoted comments and described Sebastien as a “class act”and “way more mature than most his age.”

“To be invited back to sing the national anthem is just amazing because now I know the San Antonio Spurs like how I sing,” Sebastien said. “It makes me feel like I’m doing something legendary.”

Castro posted a response to the controversy on his Facebook page.

“I’m proud of our young San Antonio superstar Sebastien de la Cruz for a spectacular rendition of our national anthem at last night’s Spurs game. Sebastian, don’t let a few negative voices get you down. You are a true talent and you represent the best of our nation’s future!”

Some might wonder if his encore rendition will attract more negative comments on social media.

However, critics might be more cautious after what happened to Andre Lacey, a firefighter whose tweet caught national attention.

According to an interview with The Augusta Chronicle newspaper in Georgia, Fire Chief Chris James said the firefighter “will be counseled for sure.”

Lacey’s actions were “completely inappropriate and not acceptable” and “by no means are reflective of the Fire Department’s attitude,” he said.

Most commenters cited on Tumblr’s Public Shaming blog have either taken down their racist tweets or deleted their accounts.

Facebook commenter Gabriel Gemenez said that she had mixed feelings about Sebastien’s performance because of his attire.

Those who were offended probably wouldn’t have lashed out had he worn “slacks or khakis and button-down shirt/polo” instead of his mariachi outfit, Gemenez said.

Although the U.S. has no true background and is made up of different ethnicities, she said, his mariachi outfit only represented Mexico and one should have a “little taste when you’re singing the national anthem.”

But it seems the support for Sebastien outweighed the criticism.

Actress and Texas native Eva Longoria said on Facebook, “As a Mexican-American, I am so proud of Sebastien De La Cruz, a great symbol of what America is today! #GoSpursGo!”

Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block showed his support for the young mariachi singer on Twitter: “I’m sorry… But slamming a kid for wearing a mariachi outfit while singing the national anthem is close-minded and bigoted!!!!!!”

“You can love your heritage and love your country at the same time!!! You can respect others culture as well a your own at the same time!!!”

“El Charro de Oro” will make his way up to New York City this weekend for the second New York City Mariachi Conservatory Conference, where he will be singing in the national anthem competition.

Cindy Y. Rodriguez | CNN