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The following feature appears in the May 2017 Handball Magazine.
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Morones' lesson: 'Take the right road'
Imprisoned since 2003, former pro shares advice
By Marc Penick
Former pro player Randy Morones with wife Sofia.
Many of you may recall the shock of hearing about former pro player Randy Morones being sentenced to 20 years to life for the hit-and-run killing of a young man in Los Angeles in 2003. We spoke to Morones, now 46, by telephone from Avenal State Prison in central California.
The Morones family has some very gifted handball players. Who is the best player in the Morones family?
Well, my uncle Bob was the best three- wall player. In four-wall, when I was young and coming up, my dad Dave would beat me at singles. After I got a little older and started playing on the pro tour, Dad stopped playing singles with me and we played doubles together. Honestly I think Dave was the better player until I got a little older, and then I became the better player.
I’ve seen a picture showing you as a young boy with a large group of players and Tony Huante at Tucson Athletic Club. Did you train with Tony a lot when you were young?
I liked going with Tony’s group because there were young guys my age to hang out and play handball with. I wasn’t one of Tony’s kids in the sense that he coached me and taught me the game. But I did like to join them and go to tournaments when I was little.
What other people helped you in your handball career?
I spent most of my early career in a court by myself practicing left hand against right hand. When I turned 12, I started playing tournaments and progressed from there.
You were a top-ranked pro in your day. What was it like for you to compete with the best players?
I loved playing handball with my friends, with my family and with the other open and pro players. I loved singles and doubles. It was exciting to work my way up in the sport. I played all the time.
You are battling a tough case of valley fever that hit you last fall. You underwent back surgery to remove a tumor. Your wife Sofia told me you are fighting this illness with everything you have.
Yes, I have been in pain for several months while the doctors tried to figure out the cause and then started treating it. I have constant back pain and some nerve damage in my legs. I am hoping and praying for recovery.
How is life at Avenal? What do you do with your time?
Since moving to Avenal, I have not played much handball. At Chowchilla, there was a nice concrete one-wall court. The guys would challenge me, and I had fun showing them how the game is played. There aren’t any decent courts at Avenal, so I haven’t been playing. Mostly I spend time in classes, working to meet the requirements for release.
Do you have many friends there?
We are social, of course. But I mostly stay busy talking with Sofia and attending my classes.
Randy, what happened in your life that caused you to end up in prison?
I was messing up ... bad. It’s on me and I am paying for it. I’m sorry it happened. I have been down for over 13 years. I learned that you have to do the time and not let the time do you. I want to start life over again when I get out. I would not go down the same path again.
Dave told me there is hope you may be released in five years or so.
I am hoping to go to the parole board in five years. We are hoping and praying for release by 2023.
What will you do if released?
Go home to Fresno and live with my wife Sofia. She is a great woman and she loves me. I also want to see my family and friends when I’m back outside.
You have two sons, Randy and R.J. Are you in touch with them?
I have communicated with Randy Jr. R.J. kind of does his own thing and we have lost touch. I don’t blame him. He is a young man now. I love them both and I am proud of them.
Many handball players remember you and still care about you. What do you want them to know?
To all my friends and competitors: I miss — really miss — going to tournaments like the nationals and competing. You know, handball players are like family. I will hopefully be out there with you all again one day.
Would you possibly start playing again if you are released?
I would love to start playing again if I am able. Is there anything else you would like the readers to know? To all you young players: You have choices in your life. Make the right decisions. Never take your life and the gifts you have for granted. Take the right road, and you will be happier in your life.
Read the interview of Randy along with father Dave and uncle Bob on the next page.