Forty-seven years ago, since his untimely death, it’s been called a mission of mercy.
On New Year’s Eve 1972, Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente boarded a chartered flight to distribute much-needed food and medical supplies to an earthquake-torn Nicaragua.
Sadly, the plane suddenly crashed off the shores of his beloved island. Since his untimely death, his extraordinary career is remembered throughout Major League Baseball but it’s the legacy of his humanitarianism that resonates throughout the life of his beloved widow, his three children but most importantly ordinary people from all walks of life.
Interestingly, Detroit Tiger pitcher Matt Boyd’s Major League debut occurred in Canada and yet five years later, he and his wife Ashley would travel to Africa for a different kind of mission.
Their mission: to help ordinary people specifically vulnerable children who live in Uganda.
After reading some rather horrific, depressing news about the child-sex industry worldwide and how infants, young children and adults are treated was absolutely mind-boggling to the Boyd family.
Matt and Ashley were contacted by a nonprofit about an urgent need in Uganda. Immediately, they knew something had to be done.
Last year, they founded their own nonprofit called Kingdom Home with the sole mission to eradicate child sex slavery and to provide a safe haven for helpless children who are at risk.
Although Boyd (4-4, 3.11) is only 28 years old, he’s experiencing a breakout season with the Detroit Tigers. He’s quite composed and soft-spoken. But don’t let his “happy-go-lucky” personality fool you to think any differently about this impressive, young man. He’s a true competitor and during the off-season, Boyd improved his game planning and worked meticulously on his release point.
I brought up Roberto Clemente to Boyd who quickly deflected any comparison to this Puerto Rican superstar and he wanted to give credit to others as he continues to say in multiple interviews:
“The bad guys aren’t smarter than us. We can end this. We can outsmart them. We can beat them to the kids. We can protect them.”
In a heartfelt, one-on-one interview, Boyd reflected on his five years in the big leagues, (including his major league debut) the almost no-hitter, beating the Yankees and of course the most important game in his life – the children of Uganda.
Originally, you started in the Blue Jays organization. What can you tell me about the early days of your career?
It was really cool. In my senior year, I was drafted in the sixth round out of Oregon State University. I was grateful for the opportunity. Didn’t know there was going to be one. They gave me a chance to start and I took it and ran with it. Every time I succeeded they moved me up and when I struggled they moved me down. It kind of happened rapidly. I was at Double-A in my first full season and back in High-A the following month. The year after that I was in the big leagues. I’m grateful to be where I am in Detroit.
Every player remembers their first time in the big leagues. Talk about your major league debut against the Texas Rangers?
We played the Rangers in Toronto. I pitched till the seventh and I believe I pitched 6.2 innings, struck out seven and unfortunately I gave up three solo home runs. Yovani Gallardo shut us down. I would have to be perfect to match him that day. It was a special day with the family.
That was 2015. Now let’s talk two years later in 2017, the almost no-hitter that went to the ninth inning. It was Tim Anderson who broke it up.
Yes. It was against the White Sox. I had a no-hitter and threw a 2-0 changeup after beating him with it a few times and threw it exactly where I wanted to. He put a good swing on the ball. Unfortunately, it landed for a hit and outside of that I got the next out. I got my first complete game (and shutout) in the big leagues.
I grew up a Mets fan and earlier this year, against the Yankees, you had a career-high 13 strikeouts. It was nice to see double-digits against those guys. Talk about that experience.
It was special. Anytime you have an opportunity to pitch in a place like New York, Boston, Chicago, those places have had baseball for a long time. You know the tradition that the Yankees carry. Got to win the series so that was pretty cool. It was awesome.
Recently, the story that hit the news was your trip to Uganda and the extraordinary work you and wife are doing there. You’re under 30 and you’ve shown so many people where your passion is. Share with me how did it start?
I credit the Lord. It’s not me. He has equipped us and given us the opportunity to go forward. My wife has worked in this sector specifically fighting child-sex slavery for about 5-6 years now. It was brought to our attention Dorothy (Stella-Alue) – who is our home mother – not our home mother but the home mother in Uganda and she was in need. She brought in some more children and had taken in 36 girls. Their ages were from 8-14. Some were rescued from the various sex trades and some were orphaned.
Along with her husband, they were doing some awesome work. And then he died. In their culture, the in-laws took everything including her home. She reached out to an organization called Remember Nhu (a non-profit that works to prevent child sex slavery around the world by sponsoring homes) and they notified us of that need. The real tragedy would be to do nothing.
From that, we partnered with her stateside and founded the nonprofit organization Kingdom Home. Over a year later, those 36 girls are in the home. Now that we partnered with Dorothy and it’s about to grow and take in more children – essentially three more homes.
It’s been a blessing and people have felt called to this and we’ve had amazing support. But, the true hero is Dorothy. She is there day in and day out. She is truly a mother to these children. Dorothy is 29 and she was actually rescued by a Catholic nun from the sex trade. She has dedicated her life to make sure this doesn’t happen to another child. She’s the true hero and we are locking arms and going forward with this.
To learn more about Matthew and Ashley Boyd’s work in Uganda, visit www.kingdomhome.org
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