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December 20, 2014

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Heralded 11-year-old singer, in Las Vegas for LULAC, leaves racists’ criticism behind

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Alison Saclolo

Sebastien De La Cruz, 11-year-old mariachi singer known as “El Charro de Oro,” the golden mariachi, will be performing the national anthem for the League of United Latin American Citizen’s Presidential Award Banquet at Caesars Palace on Friday, June 21, 2013.

The 11-year-old mariachi singer who was bombarded by racist tweets after performing the national anthem before Game 3 of the NBA Finals has a message for his online critics: Bullying is childish.

“I really don't understand why they would talk negatively about an eleven-year-old kid,” said Sebastien De La Cruz, also known by his moniker “El Charro de Oro,” which means “the golden mariachi” in Spanish. “There's no reason to pick on somebody. It's not a way to make them feel good about themselves.”

The Mexican-American singer is in Las Vegas to perform the national anthem Friday night at the League of United Latin American Citizen's Presidential Awards Banquet at Caesars Palace. He said he was no longer focusing his energy on the negative tweets, including some that questioned his citizenship and targeted his traditional mariachi outfit.

“That's not what I want to think about every day when I go to sleep,” said De La Cruz. The San Antonio native said his thoughts were transfixed on the Spurs' loss to the Miami Heat in Thursday night's deciding Game 7. “I just want to think about the Spurs winning the championship, which they didn't.”

The young singer, who had sung the national anthem before previous Spurs games, said he brushed off the hateful comments and reveled in the outpouring of support after his June 11 performance.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro sent a tweet to the young vocalist on June 12: “Sebastien De La Cruz, your rendition of the national anthem was spectacular! Don't let a few negative voices get you down.”

Castro went on to introduce the former “America's Got Talent” contestant when he performed the national anthem again before Game 4 on June 13. The young singer's rendition elicited raucous cheers in the arena and online. De La Cruz received wide encouragement, including from actress Eva Longoria and President Barack Obama.

“To know that the president of the United States knows my name and knows what my Twitter account is and is my friend on Twitter – it's just very, very cool to know that the president tweeted me,” De La Cruz beamed.

De La Cruz's mother, Stacy De La Cruz, was overwhelmed by the bombardment of positivity that immediately followed the unfavorable comments.

“If I could spread my wings that far, I would embrace the whole world just as they have embraced my son,” she said.

She first heard about the negative tweets while she was at work the morning after Sebastien’s Game 3 performance. Stacy De La Cruz said she immediately became defensive.

“I sat down. I was angry. The claws were coming out,” she said.

The mother of four said it was her son who quelled her frustration.

“He said, 'Mom, please tell me you're not crying about this, you're not upset. The only time I want to see you drop a tear is when I'm singing to you,” Stacy De La Cruz recalled.

She said she and her husband, Juan, who served in the U.S. Navy, always instilled good morals and prayer in their household.

“We're very big about morals and respect with one another, with our family and also with people you don't know and friends you meet,” said Stacy De La Cruz, who noted she'd been praying for the individuals who wrote negative words about her son.

El Charro de Oro, who spends his spare time playing basketball and occasionally watching the Las Vegas-based History Channel show “Pawn Stars,” said he would continue his mariachi career.

He will be releasing an album on iTunes and will dedicate a song to his deceased grandmother that he recorded for Mother's Day. Sebastien De La Cruz said he intended to keep spreading his upbeat attitude and mariachi music to the world.

“I'm here to help people to become better mariachis and help them learn more and to help them preserve the culture,” he said.

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