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Basketball Familia: The Maffia Family Story

What does it mean to be a part of a family?

For some, it’s waking up early to drive your kid to practice. Maybe cutting the crusts

off their toast because they just won’t eat it otherwise. It’s the warm embrace of a

hug when they had a rough day at school. It’s a kiss goodnight and even a little tuck-

in, too.

For the lucky ones in this life, family will stand by your side no matter what. They

are the first people that you meet when you come into the world. And also the first

friend you’ll ever have.

To be a part of a family is truly what life is all about and for Wendy Maffia, she has

basketball to thank for hers. “Without basketball, obviously I wouldn’t have my two kids.”

Wendy and her husband Carlos met at a college in Lethbridge, Alberta where both of

them played for their respective basketball teams.

“I actually didn’t like him a lot when I first met him,” she says. “I thought he was kind

of arrogant. I think it’s the Brazilian thing. But on one of the road trips, which was to

Grand Prairie, which is a 14 hour road trip, he tormented me from behind, like

poking me and asking me to sit with him.”

The two began chatting and eventually were a couple. They married in 1994 and

stayed in Lethbridge for four more years, until they moved to Carlos’ hometown of

Sao Paulo, Brazil. Their original plan to stay for only five years extended to 16 and

two boys in between: Diego and Lucas.

Both Wendy and Carlos were principals in Brazil and decided that they wanted to

give their children more opportunities than their current city could offer. In 2015,

Wendy packed up her life and brought her two boys back to Canada to reside in

beautiful Victoria. Carlos is still working in Brazil but plans to reunite with his

family as soon as his visa is approved.

“To be honest I think my heart goes out to him because he’s missing out on a lot of

what the boys are doing. So obviously we FaceTime every single day and I send him

links of the games, but it’s not quite the same of him being here in person. I mean,

I’m kind of a single mom to two teenage boys, so it’s a lot of pressure. And as much

as we have a very close relationship, it’s hard not to have that father figure constant


Although Wendy wishes her husband could be by her side to watch both boys

accomplish more and more each day, she’s happy with their decision to at least

bring them over so they can enjoy the same experiences of high school basketball

that she was able to growing up in Canada.

“Our goal was to provide them with more opportunities for post secondary and to

really get into the culture of Canadian high school. They’re both athletes, so we

thought they’d be successful but they’ve kind of surpassed our expectations in terms

of just fitting in and seeming like they were born here,” Wendy says. “It’s been a

really positive experience.”

Diego Maffia, Wendy’s oldest son, is the star guard for the Oak Bay Bays men’s

basketball team in Victoria.

“Of course every mom says that their kids are great, but I would like to say that my

boys are really great. They kind of surprised me with the things that they’ve been

able to do in such a short time,” says Wendy.

As a mother, Wendy admires her son and says despite his shyness, he’s an

extraordinary person to get to know.

“He’s always been kind of close to me since he was little. I think the thing about him

is he’s a very loyal friend and a very loyal person. So if you have him as a friend,

you’re a lucky person. It’s hard to get his friendship because he is a little bit shy, but

once you have it, he’ll stick with you forever. I think that’s very admirable.”

Diego has only been playing basketball for the past two years but immediately

appreciated the sport—just like his parents—as soon as he stepped onto the court.

“I just grew up playing soccer mostly,” he says. “And then a few years before I moved

I started playing basketball and just fell in love with it.”

Diego shines as one of the standout players for the Bays, whose team recently won

the Legal Beagle Championship, as well as other prominent tournaments on the

mainland along with multiple MVP awards. He even won Junior Athlete of the Year at the end of last season.

Surprisingly, he hasn’t always been a baller.

Growing up in Brazil, soccer was the sport to play. And Diego’s dad was the reason

he started kickin’ it.

“Since I was one or two, I’ve always had a ball in my hand,” he says. “Soccer was my

main sport. Me and my dad went to a bunch of soccer games in Brazil, just me and

him sometimes.”

Diego says his relationship with his father has always been very close, despite the

distance between them.

“I just looked up to him and the stuff he did. He watches from Brazil, which makes

me feel good about myself because he’s always supported me and he’s not even

here. Then he messages me saying that he’s seen the game, the highlights and stuff,

and that I’m doing great. That’s awesome, as well.”

And while Diego’s father may not be able to attend his games, his mother does not

miss a single one.

“She’s always been there for me and seeing her there makes me feel better because

she’s supported me my whole life and in any sport I play. She drives me everywhere.

Now she’s doing the stats for us as well. And she takes pictures. She does everything

for me,” says Diego. “So it just means everything to me to have her there watching

me and supporting me.”

Wendy admits, however, it all can get a bit hectic.

“I would say it’s a bit insane, but I love it. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Between juggling both of her boy’s practices, games, lunches, dinners, and

everything else that comes along with being a basketball mom, Wendy has fully

committed herself to her family in more ways than one.

“Unfortunately, my husband’s dad never saw him play. And my mom and dad were

like me; they made a point to get to every single game. So when the kids were born,

we had kind of made a commitment to say we’re going to be there for them

whatever they do,” says Wendy. “It’s a special time for them and we don’t want to

miss it.”

And to Diego, that commitment means the world.

“The main thing is they’re so proud of me. They’re always there to support me. Just being there for me and always supporting me no matter what,” he says. “I love them so much for that.”

Wendy and Diego define family. It’s evident in the way Wendy travels to nearly

every game on the mainland just to be in the stands and watch her son. It’s clear in

the way Diego’s eyes light up when he talks about his mom and dad.

Without basketball, this family would have never come to be.

Sports have given so much to both Wendy and Diego. Even Diego’s father is able to

stay connected with his son through the sport, as well.

“I would say it has been a huge factor in our lives and a big thing,” Wendy says about

basketball in general.

The Maffia’s are a representation of what family truly means.

And to this inspirational mother and son duo, basketball is family, too.

Written by: Crystal Scuor

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