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A long and winding road for Mater Dei's Aaron Cross and family

The grandfather of Aaron Cross drove more than 200 miles a day for three years so the standout pitcher could attend Mater Dei. 'I love the man to death,' says Cross, who's even learned to like the Beatles songs that were often the soundtrack for the commute.

Eric Sondheimer

May 3, 2013

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For three years, Brad Cross would rise at 5 a.m. and drive his grandson, Aaron, 53 miles from their home in Rialto to Santa Ana so Aaron could attend Mater Dei High School. He'd drive back to Rialto, then return to pick up Aaron after baseball practice.

That's 212 miles a day, five days a week, and helps explain why his 2007 Nissan Sentra has passed 285,000 miles on its odometer.

"I hated it, but we had committed to take Aaron to that school," Brad said.

Aaron Cross' only sacrifice was listening to his grandfather's collection of oldies music.

"I know every song by heart," Cross said of the many Beatles tunes he heard when he wasn't taking a nap on the drive home.

This year, Cross finally got his driver's license, enabling him to take charge of the trip. He's a standout pitcher for the No. 1-ranked Monarchs (22-1). But it's only part of an extraordinary story of a grandfather's sacrifice.

Since birth, Cross has been raised by Brad and his wife, Karen. They later adopted him and three siblings after their daughter suffered from continuing difficulties.

Cross has seen his father perhaps twice in his life. He has only occasional contact with his mother. His grandfather has been a savior in helping Cross follow his love for baseball.


"I love the man to death," Cross said. "He's been there through everything. He's an amazing person to have in my life."

When it comes to commitment, Brad fits the definition. One reason he agreed to let Aaron attend Mater Dei was that he worked in the area. Then he lost his job in 2009, but he still agreed to drive Aaron.

"We just committed," he said. "It was worth it, because he feels he was going to the greatest school in the world."

This season, Cross is 8-0 with two saves and an 0.15 earned-run average in 47 innings. He's left-handed and is being wooed by San Diego State, San Jose State and others after deciding to withdraw an earlier commitment to be a walk-on at Arizona.

"I think he's had an incredible season," Coach Burt Call said. "The intangible he has on the mound is his competitive fire. He doesn't give in. It's helped him be very successful."

Going by Beatles songs, Cross can probably tell the story of his life:

"A Hard Day's Night."

"All You Need Is Love."

"Eight Days a Week."

"Drive My Car."

"The Long and Winding Road."

Yes, Cross will admit it. He has learned to like the Beatles.

More important, he's grateful to his grandparents.

"They're not like my grandparents," he said. "They're my parents. They've been there through everything. They took me in, and I can't thank them more."

Historic 100 meters

Never in the history of the Mission League track and field finals has there been a 100-meter final quite like what happened Thursday afternoon at Occidental College, where all eight runners finished in less than 11 seconds.

"That's crazy," Loyola Coach Mike Porterfield said.

"It speaks to the amount of quality kids in our league," Sherman Oaks Notre Dame Coach Joe McNab said.

Khalfani Muhammad, the defending state champion in the 100, won in a wind-aided 10.36 seconds. Second was UCLA-bound Morgan Simon of Loyola in 10.58. Tied for third were Mission Hills Alemany sophomore Dominic Davis and Encino Crespi freshman Tarrick Brock in 10.71. Then came Loyola's Mekai Sheffie (10.86), Notre Dame's Max Leon (10.95), Chaminade's JT Hill (10.96) and Loyola's Lee Duncan (10.97).

Loyola's 400-meter relay team won in a school-record time of 40.89.

And freshman Courtney Corrin of Studio City Harvard-Westlake continued her domination this season in the girls' long jump with an effort of 20 feet 61/2 inches.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com