Hundreds said one last goodbye to Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández on Wednesday – including his pregnant girlfriend, Maria Arias – in her first public appearance since the player’s death.
Arias, 24, arrived at Fernández’s memorial service along with his Marlins teammates at St. Brendan’s Catholic Church in Miami, Florida.
Before the 24-year-old’s death in a tragic boating accident, Fernández posted an emotional photo of Arias on his Instagram, proudly letting the world know about his impending fatherhood.
“I’m so glad you came into my life. I’m ready for where this journey is gonna take us together. #familyfirst” he shared.
Arias met Fernández through her sister, who is married to one of his best friends, according to the Miami Herald.
In August, Arias surprised him with a special cake intended to let the Marlins pitcher know the gender of the baby at a family dinner.
A Facebook video shows Fernández laughing with excitement and finding out the gender of the baby.
Arias is about four months pregnant and is set to give birth in February.
Fernández’s ex-fiancée, Carla Mendoza, took to Instagram on Tuesday to post a touching tribute to the player.
“Nothing will make this time easy for anyone and if you do one thing today, let it be that you tell those close to you how much you love them,” Mendoza wrote. “Not one day will pass by that I don’t think about him or love him.”
She also showed support to Arias and her pregnancy.
“Please honor Joses memory by respecting his daughter and her mother as I’m sure this is all too painful for her as well,” Mendoza continued.
At Fernández’s service, Marlins team members and friends walked alongside the hearse carrying the pitcher’s casket as it drove by Marlins Park.
Hundreds of mourners lined the streets and chanted “Jose, Jose” as the hearse drove by. Fans also took turns signing a wall bearing the number 16 and laid flowers and Cuban flags in his honor.