MIAMI – If Santiago Ray sounds like a perfect character for a novel. … well, there’s a reason.
Although Erik Spoelstra says this is not the primary reason he and his wife, Nikki, chose that name for their newborn son, one of the first birthday gifts Erik gave Nikki was the novel, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. The book follows the journey of a young Andalusian shepherd boy name Santiago. Andalusia is an autonomous community in southern Spain.
“We just really liked the name,” Erik said.
Additionally, Nikki’s mom is from Puerto Rico. Santiago recently was second on the list of the most popular Hispanic baby boy names.
As for Ray, that is the middle name of Nikki’s father – Donald Ray Sapp – and her grandfather.
“We wanted to keep some version of their name in the family,” Erik said.
Erik then wondered about his son’s lineage.
“I’d have to figure this out and we’ve talked about it before,” he said. “I’m Filipino, Irish, Dutch. And Nikki is Puerto Rican American. Sapp, I’m sure there’s some German in there.”
Santiago Ray was born Sunday afternoon. He weighed 6 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 19 inches.
The Heat were in Indianapolis, headed to practice, when Erik got the call on Saturday that Nikki was in labor. He immediately left the team and missed Sunday’s overtime loss at Indiana, the first game he has missed in his head coaching career.
Santiago Ray was born about two hours before tipoff and Spoelstra saw just glimpses of the game and received updates from his father-in-law, who had the game on his phone.
Spoelstra didn’t even watch the overtime.
Spoelstra returned to the bench on Tuesday and the first thing he said following the Heat’s victory over the Cavaliers:
“Santi’s first win.”