Noah Nieto passed away this morning

(Family Photo)

What is life?

That was the first question that popped into my head when I heard Noah Nieto passed away this morning.  What is life?

Yes, Noah was a track and field standout for Empire. Yes, Noah was a star basketball player, ready to take the Ravens under his wings, but Noah was also a young man.  A boy really.


My inbox is full of requests from grandparents and parents seeking to give their sons and daughters exposure, hoping a college coach might accidentally click on a story, that one story that might be the difference. All that seems silly in comparison but that is life. My family lived that life.

I hear parents screaming from the stands but calls are never changed and playing time never increases. My family lived that life.

I see families force their children to play nonstop, and year round, from a very, very young age. There’s no end in sight with private coaches circling like sharks, trying to make a living off of kids held captive by their parent’s dreams. Sadly, I lived that life.

But, I realized my failures in time to figure out I was a dad first and my children are children first. I apologized for lost time. How I wish I had all that time back but I still have time. Nothing is ever promised, but I still have time. I hope.

Nothing is ever promised but Noah was full of promise. I know he filled his family with overwhelming joy which makes the coming sorrow so unimaginable that the rest of us are at a loss for what to say, what to do. Is it enough? It won’t be.


We can lend our hearts to the family but we can also save some for our own children before they are no longer children. Make their dreams your dreams.

That is life.

One of Noah’s last wishes was to give to his former teammates at Empire. He could have chosen a thousand wishes for himself, like thousands before him, but he chose his friends.

That is life.

In time, Noah’s family might make it through a day without a tear or a reminder, though it is more likely friends will forget. Friends will stop calling. Time flows on no matter how hard we try to keep memories of diapers, crawling, bruises, laughter and hugs in the moment. Here and gone.

That is life.

Ask your children what they want to do today and then ask them again tomorrow for one day, in the future, they might call you and ask you what you want to do.

That should be life.

Noah could only see two visitors at a time so his sister Danae played him the violin from outside his courtyard on Friday:

Noah’s family (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)


Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019 and he is a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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