The Tokyo Olympics have already been an experience that Eddy Alvarez will never forget.
“(It was) such an emotional moment for me, for my family, for my background,” he said on TODAY Friday when he joined the show live from Tokyo after the festivities.
“Just to get the honor to represent the United States of America, to hold the flag, a symbol of liberty and freedom — my family came over to this country from Cuba in search of opportunity, and if it wasn’t for them doing that I wouldn’t be in the position that I am now, the privilege that I had to hold the flag and lead Team USA through the opening ceremony. I mean, this has been such a whirlwind of emotions.”
His big day wasn’t over, though, as his parents, Walter and Mabel, surprised him by joining the interview remotely, along with his wife, Gaby, and their 11-month-old son, Jett.
“You just made my night,” Alvarez said.
His wife was moved by the moment.
“I’m not crying. You’re crying,” she joked with Hoda Kotb before turning her attention to her husband. “It was such an emotional, incredible feeling. I’m so proud of you, everything you represent. You’ve made all of us so proud.”
“There’s no words to express the feeling,” a choked up Mabel said. “I thought I was going to be strong, but I lost it. I lost it because Eddy, you truly made us proud, baby, like always. God bless you.”
His father was equally overwhelmed by watching his son lead his country.
“Seeing all the Americans already gave me chills and now seeing Eddy in front of all the U.S. team knocked me out of my socks,” he said. “I can’t be any more proud. I cannot be any happier. I cannot be more grateful to everything, mainly to this country.”
Alvarez has played with the Miami Marlins and won a silver medal in speedskating at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The USA baseball team will play its first Olympic game next Friday when it squares off against Israel.