Danny Valencia has always been grounded on and off the field, but now, he's reaching new heights.
The baseball slugger is lacing up his cleats for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
"I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would ever play in the Olympics," Valencia said. “... It’s kind of the icing on the cake of a long career in baseball, so I’m excited.”
Valencia has had a long career in Major League Baseball - he's played for the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, to name a few.
"This is my first Olympics and probably my only Olympics, alright. Let’s be honest here," he said, laughing.
He may be humble, but he's no rookie on the baseball diamond as he's ready to bring it for Team Israel. And signing on with the team hits close to home.
"So I was raised in a Jewish household," Valencia said. "My mom kinda was the influence there. I had a bar mitzvah when I was 13, so we were kind of always in touch with our Jewish roots.”
The current free agent calls Boca Raton his hometown, and he's an alumnus of the University of Miami. While at UM, he was drafted to the Twins and recently played for the Orioles.
"It’s something I’ve done my whole life. I love it," Valencia said. "You gotta rip the jersey off the guy who’s played baseball so long.”
Valencia doesn't need anyone to teach him the ropes, but he has been breaking a sweat in the gym every day doing agility and strength training to prepare for the summer Olympics.
And he's hoping to lift more than just weights, he plans to lift up an Olympic medal for Team Israel next.
“To win a gold medal, you know? That’s what everybody’s dream is," he said. "Being able to participate is amazing by itself and rightfully so, but winning a gold medal is something that you can carry with you forever.
He says his family, hard work and dedication have gotten him to where he’s at.
“It would be really really cool to be on the podium and be bowing to get an Olympic gold in Tokyo," Valencia said. "I think that’s what our team’s goal is. Whether we pull it off or not is obviously yet to be determined, but we’re excited and we’re looking forward to the opportunity and we’ll see what happens.”