Soccer Brings Joy, Death to Haitian's Family

ByABC News

April 2, 2006 — -- Fabrice Noel grew up on the dirt playing fields of Haiti, where soccer is a national pastime.

"If you play a lot and are really good in Haiti and play soccer, you've got a lot of opportunity," said Noel, now a U.S. pro with the Colorado Rapids.

But besides opportunity, Noel's soccer skills also brought death.

In Haiti, his skills attracted too much attention. A rival team demanded he play for them, and they even made threats.

"Yeah, they tried to scare me," Noel said. "They say, 'I'm going to kill you.' "

But it wasn't Noel they killed: It was his two older brothers.

Noel was traveling in North Carolina with the Haitian national team when it happened. He called his mother to tell her when he would be home, and she told him not to return.

"Three guys came in the house," Noel said. "They have masks on their faces. They ask for me. They say I'm not there. And they saw the two brothers and just killed them."

The gunmen also ransacked his family home. Noel's parents and surviving brothers are hiding in the hills and living in a tin shack.

His mother says she lost three sons that day, because now she can't see Fabrice, who was granted political asylum and finished high school in Florida. After being picked up by the Rapids, he moved to Denver, where he lives with an American teammate.

"I know he was just completely distraught at first," said teammate Dan Gargan. "That's an unbelievably trying thing to get through."

Noel talks to his family every two weeks, while the team helps with efforts to get them out of Haiti.

"There's one possibility I have," said Noel's mother, "for Fabrice to get me out of here."

Noel worries about his family, but he remains focused on his game. Soccer can save his whole family -- if he can find a way to get them to the United States.

"My goal is to become a big soccer player for the kids, and everybody going to know me, and I'll have a good career and have a good life," he said.

But the price of that good life is that he may never go home again.

ABC News' Brian Rooney originally reported this story for "World News Tonight" on April 1, 2006.

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