Those of you who’ve been asking to see more of Javy Baez are about to get your wish, though maybe not in the same way you were thinking. Well, I suppose this might be exactly what some of you were thinking. The versatile Cubs infielder won’t turn 25 until December 1, but he recently posed in his birthday suit for ESPN The Magazine’s annual Body Issue.
Here’s a video in which Baez, in various states of undress, discusses how his tattoos chronicle his life and how his mother still isn’t happy when he gets another one.
Below is an excerpt from Baez’s conversation with ESPN’s Marly Rivera, the full text of which will appear in the issue that drops online July 5 and hits newsstands July 7.
I’m a strong person, mentally speaking. I have learned to be that way; I’ve learned to be strong. My father and my great-grandmother died within the very same week. On the next Wednesday, I was mugged. I was 11 years old. I had a gun put next to my chest. I have lived a lot of different situations.
I’m strong as well because I’ve seen all the things my sister, Noely, has gone through. [Noely Baez suffered from spina bifida and died in 2015 at age 21.] But for me, my sister was never a crippled person. The only thing she didn’t do throughout her life was walk. She is my biggest inspiration. She loved going to the ballpark; she never missed a game. She cheered a lot. We had a lot of fun together.
I still cry for her. Whenever I go to Puerto Rico, I go to her grave and I sit there and let it all out. Sometimes I go on my own. I don’t tell anyone. I go there, sit down and talk to her. I laugh out loud remembering everything I have gone through with her. I told her about the World Series.
Because of all the things I’ve gone through, I am not that emotional. I never show how happy I am. For example, when we won the World Series, my girlfriend said to me, “Aren’t you excited?” I keep my emotions in balance. If I make one of those plays that impress people, it’s not that I’m bragging that it was easy for me. I approach it like a routine play so I can be ready for the next one.
If you want more, USA Today’s For The Win has a behind-the-scenes look with photographer Dylan Coulter, who conducted the shoot with an iPhone 7 Plus.