Amiyah Aponte

University of the Pacific |


Growing up poor and raised by a single mother in Riverside, Amiyah had a very challenging childhood. With her father in and out of prison for most of her life, and her mother in financial distress, Amiyah and her two siblings were forced to live with an assortment of family friends and relatives for the first 12 years of her life.

Even though on more than one occasion there was not enough money for food or to fill the car with gas to get to school, Amiyah did not realize her family’s struggles until, as a teenager, she noticed friends going on vacation and getting new clothes and shoes, luxuries that were not available to Amiyah. Rather than confront her reality, Amiyah lied to mask the situation.

It was at this time that her stepfather and grandfather stepped up as the main providers by working extra hours to care for her and her siblings. Her grandfather got her involved in sports to ensure she felt part of the community. When she turned 12, the family finally moved into a home, and she began to have some stability in her life. It was also when she began to understand her mother’s, stepfather’s, and grandfather’s work ethic, sacrifices, and commitment made this a reality.

With these role models in her life, she experienced success both on the field and in the classroom at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside. She was recruited to pitch for the University of the Pacific Tigers. As a freshman, she posted a 2-0 record in 12 appearances, allowing only eight earned runs in 32 innings for a 1.79 ERA (Earned Run Average). Last year she led the pitching staff with 88.2 innings, five wins, a 3.47 ERA, and 1.30 WHIP (Walks and Hits Per Inning Pitched). This year, through March 20, she has a 1-3 record and a 2.67 ERA in 18 innings.

“Watching a strong woman like my mother go through the struggles of being a single mother, but keeping a positive outlook on life, set a great example for me,” said Amiyah. “I try to emulate her every day as I take on the many challenges of being a student-athlete.”