J.J. Barea's family in Dallas for The Finals

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by CYNTHIA IZAGUIRRE

WFAA

Posted on June 5, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 7 at 2:52 AM

NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE

DALLAS — As you probably know by now, Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea is a proud Puerto Rican native. His parents and most of his family still live on the island.

But on Sunday night, they were all in Dallas to watch Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

At Barea's Dallas home, there are three things you'll always find: Food, friends, and a visiting family member from Puerto Rico.

This weekend, the entire family was there, and they acknowledge that Barea's fame has changed their lives.

"I lost my name," said his mom, Marta Barea.  "Now I'm not Professor Marta Mora or whatever... I'm the mother of Jose Juan."

The 26-year-old Jose Juan — who we know better as "J.J." — is the youngest of three boys.

"You see that photo when he was three?" asked the basketball star's dad, Jaime Barea. "He's so happy to be in uniform and with the ball."

"Whenever there was a ball around, he had to pick it up and play with it," said older brother Jaime Barea. "Wherever he was."

"He always liked balls — no toys or little monsters or whatever," said his mom. "He wanted to be like Michael Jordan."

The strength you see on the court was first observed shortly after birth. J.J. had a collapsed lung and spent 10 days in the intensive care unit.

He rebounded, proving to be a natural born athlete. J.J. grew up playing tennis, volleyball and basketball.

But he was always best with the orange ball.

"I feel very proud that he has made it by hard work," his father said. "Nobody has given him anything for free."

J.J. has never forgotten where he came from. His parents are proud that he maintains humility while at the height of his game.

So where did he get that sweet spirit from?

"Of course, from me," said dad Jaime Barea. "Everything that goes wrong is from his mom; everything that goes right is from his dad!" Marta added.

And one thing mom definitely wants everyone to get right is her son's height.

"That's always an issue, the height," she said. "Oh, he says that he's listed at 6 feet, but we know that he's not that. Then they will start — maybe he's 5'-5", 5'-7". So how tall is he? He's 5-foot 10-and-three-quarters."

J.J.'s family never imagined he'd come this far, but with his winning attitude, they're not surprised.

"I think he always believes he's going to win, regardless of who he's playing, so it doesn't matter," said his older brother. "He could be playing against the all-star team and he thinks he's going to win; he's crazy like that. I know what he's thinking, but he doesn't say it. I know in his head he's like, 'I know we're going to win it... there's no way we're going to lose."

J.J. Barea's relationship with a former Miss Unvierse is a real hot topic off the court now — especially in Puerto Rico. Wait till you hear what his mom has to say about it. That part of our interview is coming up on Tuesday night, after Game 4.

E-mail cizzy@wfaa.com

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