It’s no secret now that The Bahamas is respected as a hotbed for athletic talent, particularly, in this instance, in the sport of baseball.
Adari Grant, a 17-year-old baseball protégé and student-athlete of International Elite (I-Elite) Sports Academy, became the latest Bahamian to sign a professional contract with a Major League Baseball (MLB) organization. The St. Louis Cardinals, the second-most winningest organization in MLB with 11 World Series titles, inked the talented Grand Bahamian to a minor league deal on Monday, making him the first I-Elite product to sign for 2021 and the first Bahamian to sign during the current international signing period in MLB. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Grant, who came up through the Grand Bahama Little League (GBLL) in Freeport, Grand Bahama, until he left to attend I-Elite in New Providence, thanked everyone who played a part in his development yesterday, and promised that he will continue to work hard to progress as a baseball player and make his family, friends, supporters, I-Elite and the entire Bahamas proud.
“There are no words to express how I feel. This is surreal. I have been dreaming of this day since I was 11,” said Grant during the announcement at the Pelican Bay Hotel in Freeport yesterday. “This has been a long and hard journey but this is just the beginning. I just want to say thanks to my mother and everyone who supported me. My mother understood the drive and determination it would take to get me to this point. She made endless sacrifices and I love her so dearly for that. Because of her, I knew what I had to do.
“Everyone knows my grandmother is rowdy, but she is loving and has always been there for me. I love her for everything that she has done. Also, thanks to my second mother Kristi Sands. She took a whole year off from college to help raise me and I am grateful to her for that. I truly appreciate everything everyone has done for me. Thanks to I-Elite, the Cardinals for believing in me, and everyone who was there for me. I will stop at nothing until I make it to the big stage and make everyone proud. Today, we celebrate but tomorrow it’s back to work. I won’t let y’all down.”
Grant attended Sunland Baptist Academy in Freeport, but moved to New Providence as a 13-year-old to begin the process of pursuing his major league dream. He transitioned to I-Elite Sports Academy, worked out on a regular basis, continued to excel in the classroom, attended tournaments, and developed into one of the finest young baseball players in the country. The nifty infielder said he is looking forward to the next step of his baseball journey.
“I am anxious to start my professional career. I know that I will work hard and go out there and make everyone proud. Nothing changes,” he said. “I’m going to keep the same underdog attitude, the same work ethic and never let up. I’m going to go at it 24/7. I just have to stay hard and stay committed. It only gets tougher from here on but I know I’ll make it.”
Grant recognized his grandfather the late Phillip Grant who recently passed away and who was his first baseball coach.
“He (grandfather) knew this day was going to happen. He was a giant of a man and I know he’s proud of me for making it this far,” said Adari Grant. “My family has always been there for me. They were always by my side and that means a lot to me. The Cardinals is a legendary organization with legendary players. They took a chance on a Bahamian kid so I have to go out there, excel, and make everyone proud.”
I-Elite President and C-Founder Geron Sands said their main goal is to incorporate education with professional baseball training and continue to develop and assist aspiring athletes, helping them reach their goals. They currently enroll 20-30 young players from New Providence, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera.
“We create an elite and professional winning culture while producing role models for young men of The Bahamas,” said Sands. “Over the past six years, we have helped 20-plus young men fulfill their goals of playing professional baseball, signing with eight different organizations, and there has been an additional 15 high school or college scholarships awarded through our program to schools in the United States. These young men develop from within. We believe these kids are the future of The Bahamas and investing in them is the only way to make our country a better place.
“From the minute Adari got to Nassau, he had one goal in mind – he wanted to prove everyone wrong who thought he was not good enough. He knew he had to put in multiple hours of work and he did that. His only focus was becoming the best that he could be and he never complained about being tired. He just dedicated himself to becoming a better all-around student-athlete, in academics and sports, particularly baseball. I’m extremely proud of him.”
Coach Albert Cartwright, a former minor league player from The Bahamas, served as one of Grant’s mentors and coaches at I-Elite. He said it’s always a unique situation when a young man comes from Grand Bahama and moves to New Providence because he has to basically uproot his foundation to move and live in a new place, thereby working extra hard to achieve his goals.
“This chapter is now over and it’s time to begin a new one. I just want to encourage Adari to put God first and stay consistent in everything. Trust the process and continue to learn,” said Sands.
There are now about five young men from the nation’s second city, Freeport, Grand Bahama, who have signed professional contracts with major league organizations. Grant is the latest one to do so.
“We’re looking forward for bigger and better things for Grand Bahama, and definitely looking forward to having some St. Louis Cardinals fans now,” said Sands.
Director of International Player Development for the Cardinals Luis Morales said it takes a special player to make it in the sport of baseball, and young Grant has shown that he has the potential and talent to go a long way in the sport.
“This is a very difficult sport to succeed in and Adari has already begun the process,” he said. “It’s very important for Adari to have that foundation for his career to be a success. We’re very happy to have Adari as a part of this organization, to evaluate him, and to get to know him. We have to properly evaluate players and we did that with Adari. This is a very important day for The Bahamas and also for us because our minor league system is special to us. We look for players who could help our team for many years to come and we believe Adari is in a position to do that. This was a team effort to get him to this point and congratulations to everyone who helped him along.”
Adari’s mother Philcher Grant said it takes a village to raise a child and she’s grateful to everyone who played a part in the process of helping her son get to this point.
“To raise is to lift and to elevate, and this village that is here today will continue to raise this child,” she said. “We made a very difficult decision to take Adari out of school in order for him to chase his baseball dream. There were a lot of doubters saying that Adari was too small for baseball. He is my child and if Adari told me he wanted to be Superman, I would have found the best superhero academy to send him to. People were saying that the Bahamas is too small to produce quality baseball talent and I-Elite proves that wrong every day. Adari proved everyone wrong who said he was too small. We’re not going to limit children at 12 and tell them what they want is too big.
“I’m just proud that he stuck to his goals and worked hard to achieve them. This is just the first step of the journey. He said at the age of 12 that he wanted to be a professional baseball player and he gave everything he had toward that. He sacrificed and went out there and did it and I’m proud of him. He never once wavered. I just want to thank all of those who continue to support Adari.”
As the 2021 MLB International Signing Period continues, I-Elite Sports Academy is looking to obtain contracts for more young aspiring professional baseball players from The Bahamas. The international signing period lasts until December 15, 2021.