Arturo Corona Jr., a University of La Verne junior kinesiology major and former baseball player, died in a car accident in Pomona on April 12. He was 22.
Mr. Corona grew up in Claremont. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes in Montclair then in second grade went to Oakmont Elementary School then El Roble Middle School and graduated from Claremont High.
“He had a really good heart, even as a little kid,” Mr. Corona’s mother, Adriana Valerio, said. “At a young age he was a little terror, and we knew we were going to have our hands full.”
Mr. Corona played basketball, soccer, and football but he always stuck with baseball, which he began playing at age 5 with the Upland American Little League.
“When he started baseball he used to catch and bat, right and left handed, and then they started having him only using his left,” Valerio said.
Mr. Corona also played for little leagues in Montclair and San Dimas, where he played on several all-star teams and even went to state championships.
“He had tons of friends because he played sports in so many different leagues and different cities,” Valerio said.
At Claremont High, he continued as a left-handed pitcher.
He continued his education and baseball career at Citrus College before transferring to the University of La Verne in 2017.
“One thing that really stood out to me at Citrus, is that me and him both kind of came in at the same time and didn’t really know what to expect about college baseball, school, and life in general,” said Ryan Aguilar, senior first baseman, who played with Mr. Corona at both Citrus and ULV.
“I think from getting to know him since day one at a junior college we really just tried our best to motivate each other, every day, no matter if it was in school or baseball.”
Aguilar said he made many memories with Mr. Corona both on and off the baseball field, but one memory in particular really stood out to him.
“It was our last sophomore game at Citrus and we were all the way up in Bakersfield,” Aguilar said. “We lost on a walk off. He usually keeps his emotions in check – just in general for pitching you need to keep your cool – but we lost on a walk off and I don’t think I have ever seen him so mad.”
“He has always been a generally nice guy, and I think this one memory that stuck to me is because he obviously cares. Even if he doesn’t show it, he cared about anything he did.”
Both Aguilar and Mr. Corona moved on to play baseball at the University of La Verne. They continued their friendship, and made more memories at their new school.
“Once you really got to know the guy, he always made sure he tried his best and made sure everyone was okay before himself,” Aguilar said.
Mr. Corona had the chance to leave his hometown and go to school in Kentucky, but he decided to stay local and attend ULV, Valerio said.
“He was originally going to go to school in Kentucky, but he said it was too cold,” Valerio said.
“This was his home base. I could literally see him never leaving. This is where he was going to raise his family. He would say he was never going to move far away.”
While attending ULV as a full-time student, he studied kinesiology and worked two jobs – one at Poke Dot in Claremont and another at the Dugout in Ontario.
“He was a good boy, never gave me any problems,” Valerio said.
Mr. Corona also created new friendships on the baseball team with students like junior pitcher Logan Frye.
“He was a really enjoyable guy to be around, especially outside of baseball. We were always having fun, joking around,” Frye said. “Every time I would be with him we would always be laughing, and he was a really light-hearted guy.”
Head baseball coach Scott Winterburn also fondly remembers Mr. Corona’s playful personality.
“(He was) pretty quiet, pretty reserved to most people who didn’t know him, but he had a good sense of humor,” Winterburn said. “He was very funny and a really nice kid.”
Mr. Corona’s family enjoyed playing games like Lotería when his cousins, aunts and father would gather at his grandma’s house during birthdays and holidays.
“He always had a smile on his face and was always laughing, joking around,” his aunt Laura Corona Escalera said.
In August 2016 Mr. Corona grandmother took all her grandchildren to Kailua Kona in Hawaii.
They ate poké, went to the beach, and he danced with the Hawaiian girls on stage in the luau, Escalera said.
Mr. Corona also enjoyed listening to music. Some of his favorite artists were 4B, Travis Scott, RL Grime, Logic, Flume and Boombox Cartel, Aguilar said.
His favorite sports teams included the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Dodgers, Lakers, and the UCLA football.
Arturo Corona Jr. was born on August 26, 1996. He is survived by his mother Adriana Valerio, father Arturo Corona Sr., sister Ariana Corona and brother Oscar Corona.
“He passed away, but he wouldn’t want us to be down about it, obviously we are going to be sad and it’s a horrible thing to happen but he would want us to keep living,” Frye said.
“I know for me he would tell me, why are you sad, keep living your life, don’t make it all about me. Go live your life, go do what you want to do. I am just going to say, live through Art.”
A GoFundMe has been created for Corona to help the cost of service for the family. The page has exceeded its goal of $3,000, raising $13,050. People can continue helping the Corona family by donating to “Arturo Corona’s Funeral Expenses,” created by Arturo’s best friend Tyler Tinajero, at gofundme.com/1lt1byyx9c.
The University will hold a time of remembrance for Arturo led by University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner at 7 p.m. Monday in the chapel.
His family will hold a rosary from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 24 at the Todd Memorial Chapel in Claremont.
A funeral mass will be held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. April 25 at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Claremont with the burial to follow at Bellevue Memorial Park in Ontario.
The reception will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the United Church of Christ banquet hall in Claremont.
Maydeen Merino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.