Lopez plays to remember his late brothers


Diego Lopez dribbles ball in Wahlert soccer game

Diego Lopez, ‘20, has not had the easiest of lives. He grew up in Honduras and has been surrounded by soccer his whole life. The sport has often brought him great joy, but unfortunately he also lost two of his brothers because of the game.

At a very young age, he lost his first brother when a gang murdered him after a close game. Then again, when he was 14 years old, his other brother was murdered by the same gang after he scored a game winner. “The gang was always jealous of my brothers and how good they were at soccer,” said Lopez.

Diego started playing professionally right after the tragic time of the murders, so he was scared for his life.

“I started playing in a professional league in Honduras when I was about 15 years old,” Lopez said. “Then the gang started targeting me. If you’re a good soccer player, they do it out of jealousy.”

After the murder of his second brother, his mother decided it was time to move to a safer place. She moved to Galena, Illinois. and decided to bring Diego with her to protect him from the gang that took the lives of his brothers.

“The only reason we live here now is to find safety, and so that I can enjoy playing soccer,” Lopez said.

He went to Galena Public School for a year but transferred to Wahlert because of the great opportunities, including playing soccer and learning English. He starts for the Wahlert soccer team and is one of key players in their lineup. He hopes to score ten goals this year for the Golden Eagles.

Lopez always keeps his family close to his heart. He wears the number 6 in honor of his late brothers. He even has a special celebration when he scores a goal in order to remember his brothers’ legacies.

He Facetimes his father, who still lives and works in Honduras, before every soccer game and talks about soccer and life in general. He looks forward to going home to his mother every day after school and having conversations with her.

“I hope that one day my entire family will be reunited in the same home again,” Lopez said.

Safety and family are two things Lopez never takes for granted. He thanks God every day for the ability to be in a safe home in the United States with his loving mother.

“I have a better life here. The people here are really nice. I just feel safe,” Lopez said. “I want to work hard to be a good person despite what has happened to me.”

Diego loves his new group of friends at Wahlert and is greatly improving on his English every day. He misses his brothers and his father dearly, but he does not let that ruin his life. The game of soccer has brought him both joy and grief, but he uses it to honor his beloved family.

He hopes to play professional soccer again one day because he knows that’s what his brothers and his father would want for him. Lopez knows what it’s like to suffer controversy, but he uses his trials to make him a better person every day that he lives.