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Mother of Florida Marlins Pitcher Dontrelle Willis Chosen as Little League Parent of the Year

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Aug. 8, 2006) – Raising a child who one day grows up to play Major League Baseball is often a father’s dream, but for Florida Marlins’ pitcher Dontrelle Willis it is his mother, Joyce M. Guy, who is now enjoying watching her son live the dream after taking on the singular roles of disciplinarian, support giver and life fan.

Joyce Guy and her son, Dontrelle Willis, were members of the Alameda (Calif.) Little League

Mr. Willis attributes his successes on the field, and off, to his mother, who he calls his hero. The commitment and sacrifices made by Ms. Guy will be recognized this month when she becomes the first single parent to be presented with the George and Barbara Bush Parents of the Year Award at the 2006 Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

“Our experience in Little League was so positive because we were part of a community family,” Ms. Guy, outreach coordinator for the California Building Trade, said. “Alameda Little League was totally supportive of us, and was always right there by our side. Up to this day, when Dontrelle comes home he keeps up with the local league and even sponsors the league’s Tee Ball Marlins.”

The George and Barbara Bush Parents of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is presented annually to the parents of a Major League Baseball player who were actively involved in their son’s Little League experience. The award is named in honor of the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, and former First Lady Barbara Bush. Both were Little League volunteers during their children’s early years in Midland, Texas, and continue to support Little League today.

“Ms. Guy represents the strength that comes from a family’s commitment to pride, integrity and self respect,” Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Being a single parent has many unique challenges, and in meeting those challenges she has instilled in her children the values of responsibility and hard work, while reinforcing the relevance of giving your best every day. The fact that Ms. Guy has a son playing professional baseball is a testament to his talent and will to succeed, coupled with the morals and character set forth by her in support of Little League. We are proud to present Ms. Guy with this award.”

Ms. Guy, the mother of two, was a welder and steel worker in Oakland who worked on the Bay Bridge and other Bay Area landmarks. She kept her sons safe, healthy and focused on their futures through involvement in Little League. Dontrelle Willis played in the Alameda (Calif.) Little League while growing up. By the time Dontrelle reached high school he was a top pitching prospect. At the end of his senior year he was chosen as California High School Player of the Year, and shortly thereafter was drafted and signed by the Chicago Cubs in the spring of 2000. In 2002, he was traded to the Florida Marlins and made his Major League debut in 2003.

Throughout, Ms. Guy has mentored her sons, motivating them to excel at whatever they did. Talking by phone nearly every day, she encourages Mr. Willis, provides balance and guidance, and occasionally gives emotional pep talks as he works through his life as a professional athlete.

“When I found out about this award, I could not stop laughing,” Ms. Guy said. “It was very emotional for me, since I just did what a parent does. It’s a little different to be accepting an award for me, because I’m usually accepting awards for Dontrelle. When Dontrelle found out about me getting this award he was proud and happy. All he could say was, ‘Mom, you deserve it,’ and that made me cry. We have the same seriousness about our jobs, and I see a lot of him in me, I just don’t play professional baseball.”

More than recognition of parents annually, the George and Barbara Bush Parents of the Year Award is designed to be a symbolic recognition of the millions of parents who each year respond to the call of parental duty, and help to provide a wholesome healthy arena for leadership training for the children of their respective communities.

Some of the past recipients of the award include: Mr. and Mrs. Jack Schmidt, (parents of Mike Schmidt, 1981); Mr. and Mrs. Carl Yastremski (parents of Carl Yastremski, 1989); Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Mussina (parents of Mike Mussina, 1996); Dr. and Mrs. Charles Jeter (parents of Derek Jeter, 2000); Mr. and Mrs. Joe Varitek (parents of Jason Varitek, 2003); Mr. and Mrs. Charles Johnson (parents of Charles Johnson, 2004). The 2005 recipients were Mr. and Mrs. Jose Valentin, Sr. (parents of Jose and Javier Valentin) who were the first Little League Parents of the Year to have two sons reach the Major Leagues.