The racist backlash that followed an 11-year-old Hispanic boy's rendition of the national anthem before game three of the NBA Finals in San Antonio didn't deter the Spurs from inviting the young mariachi to perform at game four of their series against the Miami Heat.
Sebastian de la Cruz's performance, which was perfect, immediately sparked all kinds of criticisms and commentaries denigrating Latinos and immigrants.
That brought a strong defense of De la Cruz, who gained fame as a contestant on "America's Got Talent."
Thursday night, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his wife escorted young Sebastian - again in full mariachi costume - to center court at the AT&T Center.
The youngster's performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" earned a standing ovation from the capacity crowd and coaches Gregg Popovich of the Spurs and Erik Spoelstra of the Heat walked out onto the court to congratulate De la Cruz, a San Antonio native.
Castro called De la Cruz an example for young people all over the world because of his talent and class as a human being, and said he represented all the children of San Antonio and of America.
Before the tip-off to start the fourth game, Popovich denounced the authors of the racist comments about De la Cruz and offered praise for the young singer.
"He's a class act. Way more mature than most his age. And as much as those comments by the idiots saddens you about your country, he makes you feel the future could be very bright," the San Antonio coach said.
De la Cruz came out to sing the national anthem before the third game because the person ABC had engaged, country singer Darius Rucker, was unable to make it on time due to flight delays. EFE