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Profiles of Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez

Aired October 16, 2004 - 11:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Tony Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" is next, but first stories now in the news. Secretarian violence hits Iraq at the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Blasts struck five churches in four Baghdad neighborhoods today. Meanwhile, a car bomb attack on a military convoy in Mosul killed a U.S. soldier. Another blast near the Syrian border killed three U.S. troops and an Iraqi civilian. We'll have a full report on "CNN LIVE SATURDAY" at noon.
The search for votes take the presidential candidates to battleground states this weekend. Senator John Kerry this hour is holding a rally in Xenia, Ohio. The area is known as Republican territory, but Senator Kerry is pushing bipartisan to attract swing voters. Meanwhile, President Bush is making stops in Florida on his bus tour today. He held a rally in Fort Lauderdale last hour. The president is using his stops to pad John Kerry's domestic proposals.

I'm Tony Harris. More news coming up at the bottom of the hour. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" begins right now.

ANNOUNCER: She came from the Bronx and danced her way to stardom. Now she's at the top of the A-list in both film and pop.


DAVID WILD, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "ROLLING STONE": When you think Jennifer Lopez, she's clearly one of our divas.


ANNOUNCER: But lately it's been the men and the marriages that have been making the headlines.


JENNIFER LOPEZ, MUSICIAN/ACTRESS: I've been very open in the past and a little bit to my own chagrin.


ANNOUNCER: After the Bennifer fold out and her recent hush, hush wedding, is J. Lo now on the down low?


RACHEL CLARKE, DEPUTY EDITOR, "PREMIER" MAGAZINE: I think Jennifer Lopez has really learned her lesson about overexposure and that less is more.


ANNOUNCER: This weekend she's back.




ANNOUNCER: But how will her latest tango with ticket sales play at the box office?


LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Jennifer Lopez really needs a big hit.


ANNOUNCER: On the block with a brand new Jennifer Lopez. Then, he's one of baseball's best who is chasing the one thing that has eluded him in his career, a World Series championship.


DANIEL HABIB, STAFF WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": As usual, anything but a Yankees World Series win would be disappointing.


ANNOUNCER: He has made headlines for his mega salary and this year's blockbuster trade.


ALEX RODRIGUEZ, NEW YORK YANKEES: I've been kind of a moving target for baseball or I guess for what's wrong with baseball.


ANNOUNCER: He's come a long way from growing up in a family that struggled to get by.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He grew up with rough kids, with kids that didn't have anything, with kids -- they don't no lunch, no money, no shoes.


ANNOUNCER: A look at the personal and private side of super slugger, Alex Rodriguez. Their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Looking to put her relationship with Ben Affleck and their Hollywood bomb, "Gigli," behind her, Jennifer Lopez has a new man and new movie. The man is singer Marc Anthony and the movie is "Shall We Dance?" Since making her pop debut in 1999, J. Lo has been a crossover sensation and a tabloid fixture. Here's Kyra Phillips.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's been dubbed the ultimate triple threat, a supernova, super diva, and entertainment machine.

CLARKE: She sings. She dances. She designs clothes, she creates fragrances. So far, I think the only thing she hasn't done is ice skate.

PHILLIPS: At 35 years old, Jennifer Lopez is a 21st century, multi-media mogul, promotion pictures to music videos. If fans need a fix, she's just a play away.

WILD: She may not be the greatest technical singer in the world. She may not even be technically the most beautiful woman in the world, but she has made herself probably the most talked about, lusted after woman on the planet.

PHILLIPS: Seventeen films, four multi-platinum albums, $250 million in the bank. Diva size in style, self regard and ambition. For nearly a decade now, we buzzed about the boyfriends, the Bentleys, the bling, and of course, that famously, insured bottom line.

But beyond the madness that surrounds the woman known as J. Lo., it's the men and marriages that intrigue the most. Not one, not twice, but three times she's walked down the aisle. This past June, Latin crooner Marc Anthony became husband No. 3.

JULIE DAM, SENIOR WRITER, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Marc Anthony has a reputation for being very private and it seems to have rubbed off on Jennifer from the way they held their wedding to the way that they've not talking about their marriage at all.

PHILLIPS: But wait, weren't we just in the throws of Bennifer? For those of you who may have forgotten, Bennifer was the hyper, over exposed merger of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Their 18-month coupling spawned a headline blazing. Paparazzi free-for-all culminating and nixed nuptials and one of the biggest box office bombs in Hollywood history.

ROZEN: Was "Gigli" as much of a turkey as anyone said it was? Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: Now, eight months after the demise of the artist formerly known as Bennifer, Jenny from the block with yet another rock returns. This time, opposite Richard Gere in the romantic comedy, "Shall We Dance?"

LOPEZ: You have to hold her like you're going to have your way with her right here on the dance floor.

PHILLIPS: And with decidedly mixed reviews, Hollywood is waiting to see if it takes off or falls flat.

ROZEN: Jennifer Lopez really needs a big hit. She got paid, I think, $12 million for "Gigli" which was twice what the movie even made. This would be a good time for her to have a big hit.

PHILLIPS: Post Ben, post "Gigli," all eyes are now on her, but it's the reinvention of an overexposed diva that's garnering the biggest buzz.

CLARKE: I think Jennifer Lopez has really learned her lesson about over exposure and that less is more and she's showing that with her recent marriage to Marc Anthony. We don't know all the details. We don't know anything really.

LOPEZ: Well, it's not something I really want to talk about, the personal side of stuff. I think, you know, I've been very open in the past and a little bit to my own chagrin.

PHILLIPS: Hers is a tale of powerful ambition. We begin our story on the block where it all began.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Black Rock and Castle Hill, J. Lo's block.

PHILLIPS: She was born Jennifer Lynn Lopez on July 24, 1970, in the Bronx. And for 18 years, her home was here at 2210 Black Rock Avenue.

LOPEZ: It is not like, you know, Fort Apache, like everybody thinks. I grew up in a house, believe it or not, in a very nice neighborhood. I went to school across the street. It was a nice neighborhood, a very mixed neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She used to come to get her pizza almost every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My cousin, right, he went out with her around right here.

PHILLIPS: The middle of three sisters, her parents were Puerto Rican. Her mother, Guadalupe, taught school. Her father, David, worked with computers. Money came and went, but one thing always remained.

PETER CASTRO, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Music and dance were always a really important part of her life. Jennifer, her sisters and her mom would watch musicals on TV, listen to records, Broadway, salsa. I mean she had a really very varied artistic education at home. You know she watched "West Side Story," you know, ad infinitum.

PHILLIPS: By 1987, with 12 years of dance and a high school diploma under her belt, she set her sights on New York City. Already a fixture at local dance clubs, she dreamed of making money off her moves.

With her nose pressed against the window of the No. 6 subway train, she watched the Bronx disappear. A semester of college and two years of dance followed, but auditions went nowhere. Until 1990, she was 20 years old and handpicked out of 2,000 dancers for a sexy slot on a Fox comedy show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): "In Living Color."

CASTRO: I remember watching "In Living Color" and thinking, "Wow, that girl is really hot." And she was, you know, she's like -- you know boundless energy. I mean she really upstaged everybody.

PHILLIPS: Including the show's choreographer, actress Rosie Perez. Reports say the two fought fiercely. Two seasons later, Lopez flew the coop. But truth be told, she craved the spotlight. Following a brief 1993 appearance in a Janet Jackson video...



PHILLIPS: ...the dancer moved into acting. Quietly landing forgettable TV work. There was the CBS series, "Second Chances"...

LOPEZ: Your parents hate me.

PHILLIPS: ...and 1994's "Hotel Malibu."

LOPEZ: I did not get this job because of my legs. I don't even know who Jackson Mayfield is.

PHILLIPS: But the little screen wasn't big enough for the Bronx bombshell. And in 1995, at the age of 25, Jennifer Lopez made her big screen debut.

CASTRO: "Mi Familia" wasn't a tremendous success but it did get her noticed. From there, she went on, of course, to "Selena," which was really the first big J. Lo moment.

PHILLIPS: Coming up, from "Selena" to superstar, the making of J. Lo.

LOPEZ: What?

WILD: The hit videos, the hit movies, the marriages, I mean she's been a very busy lady.

PHILLIPS: Plus, Marc Anthony and the video that started it all.

DAM: And Jennifer's friends say that he has been pining for her forever.




PHILLIPS (voice-over): In the summer of 1996, 22,000 had answered the casting call, but only one would portray Selena, the late Tijuana singer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have the great pleasure of introducing to you Jennifer Lopez.

LOPEZ: Oh my God!

ROZEN: This is the role that any actress with an ounce of Hispanic blood in her wanted. And she won it.

JENNIFER LOPEZ, ACTRESS/MUSICIAN: Really all I want to do with this is to do a good job and make everybody proud and give Selena her justice.

PHILLIPS: And in March 1997, she did just that. "Selena" opened to glowing reviews and the actress was glowing herself. Just one month prior to the film's release, she had married for the very first time.

CASTRO: The story goes that she's, you know in a Miami restaurant, and Ojani Noah is the waiter. He comes over, takes the order, walks away and she turns to her friend and says, "That guy is beautiful. One day I'm going to marry that guy."

PHILLIPS: But the honeymoon was short lived. The couple quickly drifted apart. One year later in 1998, the credits rolled on their yearlong marriage.

Her career, however, was flourishing, from red carpets to behind the scenes. Jennifer Lopez was fast becoming Hollywood's new "it" girl.

Opposite George Clooney, "Out of Sight," brought her to the A- list.


PHILLIPS: The film's junket also brought front and center a decidingly tightlipped star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything you want to tell us about your love life here?



PHILLIPS: She was silent for a reason. Reports were linking her to then married music mogul, Sean "Puffy" Combs. Their romance wouldn't be announced until the following year, just in time for the debut of Jennifer Lopez, pop star. WILD: I think "On the 6" just surprised people because actress makes album. It's an old story, and it's either a pretty bleak one. And yet, it had a couple of great hits.

PHILLIPS: Two No. 1 singles, endless music videos.

LOPEZ (singing): Waiting for tonight.

WILD: They're hot.

PHILLIPS: And one gravity defying green dress later, Jennifer Lopez, superstar, had arrived. With the producing help of Combs, "On the 6" went triple platinum. P. Diddy and his soon to be J. Lo were now the toast of the town.

CASTRO: It was an interesting match, you know. And as a result, a lot of fireworks happened.

PHILLIPS: Those fireworks turned into gunplay on November 27, 1999. It was a headline-making story, shots in a New York nightclub and the arrest of Sean Combs. Questioned for 14 hours and released, girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez. The media circled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's over. And she is completely exonerated.

PHILLIPS: Combs was later found not guilty, but the damage to the relationship was done.

CASTRO: The fact that she spent all that time in that police precinct after the gunplay in that nightclub, it was just, you know, "I'm out of here."

PHILLIPS: Down but not for the count, soon J. Lo was making headlines once again. This time in a whirlwind romance with Cris Judd, a backup dancer for the video "Love Don't Cost a Thing."

The buff Judd, it seemed, was anything but Puffy.

CASTRO: Cris Judd is from a town called Niceville in Florida. I mean I'm not making that up. You know it's like out of central casting.

PHILLIPS: Judd and J. Lo's romance was barely made public when wedding bells were ringing. The couple married just three months after meeting.

CASTRO: She needs just to be coddled and taken care of and that's what he was. And he fit the role perfectly.

PHILLIPS: Following the honeymoon, Mrs. Judd went back to business. She quickly signed on to play a female gangster in "Gigli," sharing the lead billing, fellow actor, Ben Affleck.

LARRY SUTTON, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: He was smitten with her immediately. I sort of think it was as close as love at first sight as you can get. PHILLIPS: It may have been love for Affleck, but a hurdle still remained in the form of Cris Judd. Mild flirtation between the two, including flowers sent by Affleck, was in evidence at the opening of J. Lo's new restaurant, Madre, on April 15, 2002.

Shortly after the opening she filed for divorce. J. Lo's marriage had lasted 108 days.

CASTRO: Poor Cris Judd. He's just a simple guy from Florida, you know, and she doesn't want to be with a simple guy from Florida. She wants to -- I think she needs a fellow superstar.

PHILLIPS: Coming up, Jenny from the block and the Bennifer blow up.

CLARKE: He just wouldn't get to the alter. When they broke up in January, she had finally realized, you know, this guy is never going to marry me.

PHILLIPS: And later, Marc Anthony. Is three times really a charm?

RICHARD PEREZ-FERIA, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "PEOPLE" ENSOR: ESPANOL: It was unbelievably conceivable in some ways that Jennifer Lopez would instantly turn around from a Friday to a Monday and be equally in love with somebody else.





BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So listen, what do we make of this?

LOPEZ: I like it.

HEMMER: Sexiest man alive?

LOPEZ: Not bad?

HEMMER: If he were sitting here today, what do you think he would say about you, why he likes you?

LOPEZ: I don't know.

HEMMER: Give us a shot.

LOPEZ: I don't know. I think he's say me having a big heart or something.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): By the summer of 2002, the ink on divorce papers barely dry, twice married, Jennifer Lopez opened her heart once again, going public with a relationship with actor, Ben Affleck.

HEMMER: Did you ever try to conceal that relationship or do you find it impossible?

LOPEZ: We're not trying to do anything except be two people in love.

PHILLIPS: In 2002, the twosome dubbed Bennifer exploded on and off screen. Affleck played a super hero in "Daredevil" and Lopez doubled her pleasure once again. "Maid in Manhattan" grossed $150 million and album No. 3, "This Is Me Then," arrived in November, just in time for the big announcement. Jenny from the block was now Jenny with the rock.

DAM: He brought her to his childhood home in Massachusetts. There were candles, rose petals everywhere, very romantic, her song playing, and of course, there was the 6.1 carat pink diamond from Harry Winston.

PHILLIPS: News of the engagement became fodder for an over zealous paparazzi. Not since Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had a romance been so free loving and free spending.

DAM: From the very beginning of their relationship, Ben was buying her jewelry, like, insane diamonds and buying each other matching cars, and not just cars, Bentleys and Rolls Royces. He was known to have bought her mom and her sister Rolexes. It was out of control spending.

PHILLIPS: But by August of 2003, the Bennifer union was beginning to show cracks. Reports of Ben's excessive gambling and a night with strippers made headlines just as "Gigli" got trashed by critics and grossed just $3.8 million, which was close to budget of their September 14 wedding, a ceremony they cancelled just days before blaming excessive media attention.

A brief break-up and quick reconciliation followed. But by mid January, the buzz began to build once more. Where was Jen's 6.1-carat engagement ring? Why was Ben alone in Paris? Why did J. Lo just last week spend an evening with old flame, Sean Puff Daddy Combs?

DAM: He just wouldn't get to the alter. And finally, when they broke up in January, she had finally realized, you know, this guy is never going to marry me.

PHILLIPS: On January 22, 2004, it was the news heard round the globe, Jen and Ben officially no more.

PEREZ-FERIA: That's where the beginning of the privacy issues came up with her. She literally did not want the press around anymore.

PHILLIPS: Three months later, a love worn Lopez reemerged at a Los Angeles premier.

DENZEL WASHINGTON, ACTOR: Is that Jennifer Lopez? Oh! PHILLIPS: Walking the red carpet suspiciously close to a Latin heartthrob. Rumors were immediate. Could it be, Jennifer Lopez now dating Marc Anthony?

DAM: Marc and Jennifer first worked together in 1998 on one of his music videos. So they've known each other for a good six years. Jennifer's friends say that he has been pining for her forever.

PEREZ-FERIA: She understands him. She knows his family, his roots, his history, his music. That translates into a very calm, very legitimate relationship whereas on paper, in Hollywood, you were like Marc Anthony? What's that about?

PHILLIPS: And on June 5, just four days after finalizing his divorce to former Miss Universe, Dayanara Torres, and four months after her split with an ambivalent Affleck, Jennifer Lopez became Mrs. Marc Anthony in a quiet wedding at her California home. The couple remains mum on details surrounding their surprise union.

PEREZ-FERIA: The world was stunned somehow. Are we ever stunned really?

LOPEZ: Have you ever danced before?

RICHARD GERE, ACTOR: No, but I'm a fast learner.

PHILLIPS: And this weekend, the blushing bride returns to the big screen opposite Richard Gere in the romantic comedy, "Shall We Dance?" Reviews are mixed.

CLARKE: It's going to be really hard for Jennifer if "Shall We Dance" doesn't do well. It's sort of her first film in the post Bennifer era, so she wants to prove that that's all behind her, that it's all about the future, that her career is on the upswing again.

LOPEZ: Now, I just worked with Jane Fonda, who, you know, is an incredible actress. She was like you're a great actress. Choose carefully, you know be really, you know, discriminating with what you really won't do.

PHILLIPS: From public to private, from demanding to discriminating, at 35 years old, she's starting anew.

LOPEZ: What's up L.A.?

PHILLIPS: But can Jennifer Lopez survive the over exposure of an infamous past and will Marc and Jennifer ever go the way of Bennifer?

DAM: No matter how happy she seems and how devoted Marc seems, people will always feel a little skeptical about Jennifer because this is her third marriage.

PEREZ-FERIA: Seeing them together so happy, I really feel this is it. I'd be really surprised now if it didn't work out.

WILD: All of us who watch stars marry and unmarry would be betting against her and anyone who's bet against Jennifer Lopez has lost.


ZAHN: After being in a string of movies, J. Lo appears to be ready to return to music. She is reportedly thinking of going on tour for the first time ever.

ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, his team is gunning for a World Series championship, but pressure is nothing new for Alex Rodriguez.


A. RODRIGUEZ: I remember the pressure when I was 15, 16, 17 years old and seeing my single mom worked two jobs and barely grinded it out for three kids.


ANNOUNCER: What you may not know about the Yankee superstar. That's next.


HARRIS: I'm Tony Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" continues in a moment, but first, stories now in the news.

Breaking ranks, several members of a reservist unit in Iraq are under military investigation for allegedly refusing orders. The soldiers are accused of failing to take part in a refueling mission in a danger zone. More on this story at the top of the hour.

Christian churches are the targets of sectarian violence in Iraq. Five churches in four Baghdad neighborhoods were attacked today. The violence comes at the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Meanwhile, four American troops have been killed in separate car bombings in Iraq since Friday night.

New findings add to the flu fears in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration says none of the influenza vaccine produced by a U.S. company's plants in England is any good. The FDA says it cannot vouch for the safety of up to 46 million flu shots produced by Chiron Corporation.

A complete wrap of the news is coming up at the top of the hour. PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues right now.

ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Well, it is October and the Yankees are back in the post season, back facing their arch rivals, the Boston Red Sox. This time, New York is looking at their biggest acquisition of the year, Alex Rodriguez, to help them to another World Series. A-Rod is arguably baseball's most skilled player and he is definitely the highest paid. Here's Mike Galanos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIKE GALANOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's fall again at Yankee Stadium, the house that Ruth built. Twenty-six world champion Yankee teams have played here. Names like Gehrig, Dimaggio and Mantle forever represent Yankee pride. Now after a trade, which shook baseball to its core, another player's name is trying to add his name to that list of Yankee greats, Alex Rodriguez.

HABIB: Baseball players are described in terms of probably five tools -- hitting for average, hitting for power, throwing, fielding and running. A-Rod does them all.

GALANOS: His numbers, staggering, a controversial record contract that pays him $252 million over 10 years. He's an eight time all star, has two gold gloves and he's the reigning American League MVP.

A. RODRIGUEZ: When you think about it, it is the ultimate dream for any kid to be a major league baseball player, and to think about that you're actually getting paid to do something that you love.

GALANOS: He's a 29-year-old athlete who seems to have it all, cover-boy good looks, a beautiful wife who's carrying his first child, but now, he's facing a challenge, delivering to New York the one thing that has eluded him during his career, a World Series trophy.

HABIB: As usual, anything but a Yankees World Series win would be disappointing.

GALANOS: But Rodriguez says any pressure he's under now is nothing compared to growing up in a family that struggled to make ends meet.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I think the pressures in my life are over. I mean I remember pressure when I was 15, 16, 17 years old and seeing my mom work two jobs and really grind it out for her three kids. I think that's what I really recall as pressure.

GALANOS: Alex Rodriguez was born in New York City in 1975 after sister Susie and brother, Joe. His father, Victor, played amateur baseball in the Dominican Republic. He made enough money from the Manhattan shoe store he owned that he moved his family back to his homeland to retire when Alex was just four. The Rodriguez family lived well in the Dominican Republic by any standards. They moved into a four-bedroom house, even had a live-in maid. Alex learned to ride a bike here, celebrated birthdays with relatives and always got car sick riding the bus to school. It was here that he began developing the fundamentals for baseball and life.

A. RODRIGUEZ: The years in the Dominican really grounded me in a sense where it gave me a foundation, I think, for the rest of my life.

GALANOS: An economic downturn forced Alex's father to move the family to Miami to open another shoe store. When Alex was nine, his dad told the family he needed to work in New York for a little while. Alex says he didn't hear from his father for years. Alex doesn't like to talk about his father, but he did write about him in his 1998 book, "Hit a Grand Slam." He wrote, "Whatever his true reasons for leaving and not staying in touch, I can forgive him. I have to let go of that anger to move forward. The problem is I can't forget what he did."

Alex's mother, Lourdes, worked two to three jobs just to support the family.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I can remember her coming home at night and counting her tip money from being a waitress late at night, to 11:30 at night. And I wouldn't go to -- come to bed until she got home. And I felt I was counting 36, 37, 38. Forty dollars was a great night.

GALANOS: J.D. Arteaga, former minor league pitcher and current pitching couch for the University of Miami, grew up with Alex.

J.D. ARTEAGA, FRIEND: I think the saying that the struggles that his mom went through, you know, and the strength that she had to keep that family together and you know, keep three jobs and just barely making it, you know, going paycheck to paycheck.

A. RODRIGUEZ: There were some growing problems obviously. You know there was divorce involved and all that. But for the most part, I had a great childhood and I had a lot of people to look up to. And I have been a beneficiary of some adults taking me under their wing.

GALANOS: One of the adults who took Alex in, J.D. Arteaga's father, Juan.

ARTEAGA: I got a little jealous sometimes because he would go buy me shoes and he would get -- you know he'd ask for another pair. And I'd say, "Well, who's that for?" And he would say, "That's for Alex."

GALANOS: J.D.'s father brought Alex to play baseball here, at The Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami. There Alex met another father figure...

EDDY RODRIGUEZ, FRIEND: Do you understand what I'm saying?

GALANOS: ...Eddy Rodriguez, no relation, but he might as well have been family. He once played center field in the minor leagues for the Chicago Cubs.

E. RODRIGUEZ: Alex, you know, was a kid that a lot of people wanted to help him, you know, as a kid that a lot -- that was likable by everybody. And I know he probably struggled, you know, but, you know, he was always -- you know he had the Boys Club, had his family.

A. RODRIGUEZ: It gave me an avenue to stay away from drugs, alcohol. If you have a place where you can go out, do your homework, play ball, and basically, there's no pressure there. There's no prejudice there.

GALANOS: Alex looked to the Boys and Girls Club and his other role models, his mother and Juan Arteaga to fill the void left by his father. He still had heard nothing from him.

When the story of Alex Rodriguez continues, his star in baseball would rise, but another tragedy would add to his personal pain. A. RODRIGUEZ: And he just had a stroke and he passed away. So, that was a tough time.





GALANOS (voice-over): Growing up, Alex Rodriguez was an all around athlete who played basketball, football and was a standout in baseball. At age 15, he wanted to take his talent to the top baseball program in Miami, Westminster Christian prep school.

RICH HOFFMAN, FORMER COACH: He was just a young, thin, very good looking athlete who looked like he had a lot of potential.

GALANOS: With the help of a scholarship, Alex's mother scraped together money for the school's tuition. His baseball skills began to improve dramatically.

HOFFMAN: When everybody else went home, he went into the weight room. He started working hard and doing the extra things that great players need to do. He went from a skinny, scraggly little guy to just a real dynamite looking athlete.

GALANOS: But just as everything seemed to be falling into place for Rodriquez, tragedy struck during his sophomore year. It happened while he and J.D. were playing in a football game.

And our first game of the year, Mr. Arteaga, it was in the second quarter, he came down out of the bleachers. He had heart problems to start with and he said, you know, "I don't feel too well" and was real hot and just collapsed right there on the running track.

ARTEAGA: A bunch of, you know, friends and family came to the house that night and he couldn't make it, Alex. You know he was -- well, to him, I mean, he lost a father, too, and he just couldn't come face -- not face the family, but he was hurt.

A. RODRIGUEZ: He was the guy that treated me like his third child and he just had a stroke and then passed away. So, that was a tough time.

GALANOS: Alex responded by dedicating himself to baseball. During his junior year, he hit leadoff, batting .450 and helped guide his high school team to a 35-2 record and a national championship.

All eyes were on him now. Dozens of scouts showed up to watch him play his senior year. With the baseball draft approaching, Alex's professional future was about to be determined.

HOFFMAN: You had to wait for a phone call. And of course, we all gathered around because we knew he was either going to be the first or second pick, but we weren't sure which.

GALANOS: On June 3rd, 1993, the Seattle Mariners made Rodriguez the No. 1 draft pick in the nation. Amid all the celebrating, he got another call that night from his father. It was the first time Alex had heard from his dad since he had left nine years earlier.

The Mariners signed Rodriguez to a $1.3 million contract. He bought a $34,000 Jeep Cherokee and put himself on $1,000 a month allowance.

A. RODRIGUEZ: And I thought I was by far the most overpaid kid in the world at 17 years old with a million dollars. I thought that was pretty scary.

GALANOS: On July 8, 1994, he got called up to the show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A good looking kid.

GALANOS: The first 18-year-old to play in the majors in a decade. It was a shaky start. That game, he went 0 for 3. But his numbers steadily improved. Rodriguez soon won the Mariners' starting shortstop job. "Sports Illustrated" labeled him a hot player and one of the game's next superstars. One of his idols seconded that.

CAL RIPKEN, JR., FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE ALL-STAR: This guy is going to be a great player. But it's another thing to go out there and actually do it. And he's doing it, you know, like he's been in the league five and 10 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Toward the hole. Alex backhands the ball...

GALANOS: Baseball's iron man was right. In 1996, his first full major league season, Alex Rodriguez exploded. He was the American League batting champion and was named player of the year by the "Sporting News."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that is hit well into right center field...

GALANOS: Two years later, he joined the elite 40/40 club, 42 homers and 46 stolen bases. By the end of the 2000 season, he was a four-time All Star and one of the baseball's biggest superstars. He was also a free agent, meaning he could sign with any team for any price.

HABIB: A-Rod was the biggest fish in the pond. He was represented as that rare, once in a generation player who can sort of permanently alter the fate of a franchise.

GALANOS: Several teams courted the then 25-year-old shortstop. But Texas Ranger's owner, Tom Hicks, made Alex Rodriguez an offer he couldn't refuse, 10 years, $252 million, the richest contract in the history of sports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to our ball team.

A. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

And I don't think anyone is worth this type of money, obviously. But you know that's the market that we're in today.

GALANAOS: At the time, A-Rod's contract was worth more than the value of half the major league's 30 franchises, according to "Forbes" magazine, worth more than the two bottom teams combined.

HABIB: The reaction to the contract at the time was sort of cataclysmic. I think everybody in baseball had an opinion about it. Everyone in general side had an opinion about it. And the consensus seemed to be that he was overpaid by a factor of 10.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I think the mega contracts are a byproduct of the system. You know you can't blame the people getting the contract or the people giving the contract. I think the way you cure the problem is you fix the system.

GALANOS: While A-Rod was criticized for the amount of zeros in his contract, he was putting up big numbers on the field. In 2002, Rodriguez clubbed 57 home runs, a record for a shortstop. The following season, he was named the American league's most valuable player.

HABIB: He handled it well, as he handles most things, with equanimity, with grace and with professionalism.

GALANOS: But A-Rod's personal success on the field did not translate into wins for the Rangers. During his first three years in Texas, the team finished dead last each season.

HABIB: It became a fashionable way to denigrate what he had done, to say that he sucked up so much of the team's resources that nothing could be achieved with him there.

A. RODRIGUEZ: We win together and we lose together. I'm not going to separate myself when I'm doing well, when I'm doing bad. If we lose, we all shoulder the same blame.

GALANOS: But Alex Rodriguez seemed to be in a no-win situation.

When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, A-Rod rocks the baseball world again by two-stepping out of Texas for Yankee pinstripes.





GALANOS (voice-over): By the end of the 2003 season, Alex Rodriguez was considered by many to be the best player in baseball. He led the league in home runs. He was near the top of virtually every offensive category and he was voted the American League's MVP, but A-Rod was the loan star on a Texas team that struggled to win.

JEFF PEARLMAN, FORMER SENIOR WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": He had to know to some degree what he was getting into. If you looked at Texas and you know everybody saw they did not have very good pitching. The talent was pretty marginal.

GALANOS: Texas and Rodriguez discussed going their separate ways, allowing A-Rod to play for a contender and the Rangers to unload his $252 million salary. Trade talks began with the Boston Red Sox, a perennial second place team looking for the missing piece that would bring them a championship.

HABIB: Red Sox fans were thrilled. I'm friends with a lot of them and I got frantic phone calls five, six times a day asking me what the latest was.

GALANOS: After months of negotiating, the deal fell through. However, Rodriguez would leave Texas in a move that would shock the world and horrify the Red Sox nation. A-Rod was traded to Boston's arch enemy, the New York Yankees.

HABIB: The trade to the Yankees came down because George Steinbrenner, who owns the Yankees, lives for showmanship and lives for the opportunity to one-up his closest rivals, who are the Red Sox.

A. RODRIGUEZ: He's a grinder. Mr. Steinbrenner has built, obviously, for over 25 years and you have to tip your cap because no one has done it like he has.

GALANOS: For the first time in three years, Rodriguez was playing for a contender.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I think it's the greatest challenge in the world, playing for the greatest franchise with the richest history and with the biggest aspirations, being world champion. You're in or you're out.

GALANOS: But once again, A-Rod became a lightning rod for critics, by bringing his mega contract to a team that already had baseball's highest payroll.

HABIB: It was seen as the rich getting richer. It was seen as almost a Monopolistic situation, that they'd become the Microsoft of the Major Leagues.

GALANOS: Rodriguez's desire to play for a winner was so great; he even changed his position to join the Yankees. New York already had its own All-Star shortstop, Derek Jeter. A-Rod, who was on pace to become the best shortstop of all time moved to third base.

HABIB: It was seen as Jeter couldn't be displaced from his position. He had earned the right to occupy it. The big deal was A- Rod is a better defensive shortstop than Jeter is. So, for him to switch positions was an important gesture of deference to make.

GALANOS: Another adjustment Rodriguez faced was playing under the microscope of New York. High expectations from fans, the media and management, who accept nothing less than a World Series victory.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I have been under scrutiny ever since I was 17 years old as the No. 1 pick coming out of Miami and I think I've had a lot of practice. And I've been kind of a moving target for baseball or I guess for what's wrong with baseball, if you want to say that, with my contract or whatnot. But I've always found a way to, you know, make things happen and really do well.

GALANOS: While Rodriguez remains in the spotlight, he hasn't forgotten his roots.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I keep the same circle of friends that I have my whole life and I like it that way. It's more intimate.

GALANOS: The man once named one of "People" magazines most eligible bachelors has also settled down. In 2002, he married former school teacher Cynthia Scurtis. The couple had been dating for several years.

A. RODRIGUEZ: She's an incredible lady. You know she has a psychology background, which for me is great. She's, you know, a second batting coach. Sometimes she thinks she's too much of a batting coach, but very caring, very smart, very philanthropic, and just a very special lady.

GALANOS: The Rodriguez family will soon be expanding. A-Rod and C-Rod will be joined by a B-Rod, baby girl due next month.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I'm excited. I'm nervous. You know there's apprehension. I mean this is something that I've -- I don't have any experience with.

GALANOS: While A-Rod is preparing to become a dad, he's also made strides in reconciling with his own father, though he rarely talks about the subject, the two have met on several occasions in the past few years. Alex credits his wife with encouraging him to mend the relationship.

Rodriguez has also kept close with his other family in Miami. He holds a glitzy fundraiser every year for the Miami Boys and Girls Club, a place where he grew up. He's donated baseball fields and scholarships to the club and he also donates his time.

E. RODRIGUEZ: Off season, he's here every day. He's doesn't mind getting a slice of pizza, talk to the kids, sign autographs for the kids. He's here every day, so that, to me, is more important than the money he had donated to the Boys Club.

A. RODRIGUEZ: When people talk about image, if you work really hard and you hire the right P.R. firm, you can have a hell of an image for six months. But if you build a reputation, which takes 20 years, 25 years, that's something I care about.

GALANOS: Rodriguez hit 36 home runs with a 106 RBI this season, a career year for most players, but a disappointing one for the reigning MVP. However, Rodriguez remains in the hump for his first World Series ring. It's another challenge for a kid from Miami who has dealt with pressure and expectations his entire life.

A. RODRIGUEZ: Self motivation is something that's very important and hard work, dedication, a passion for the game and those other things that drive me to be the player that I am today.


ZAHN: The last time Alex Rodriguez was in baseball's post season, he was a Seattle Mariner. It was October of the year 2000, and A-Rod was facing his future team, the Yankees. Seattle lost the series in six games.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, the other candidate for president. Will Ralph Nader play the spoiler again? I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us. I hope you'll be back with us next week.

ANNOUNCER: For more celebrity news, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.


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