Remembering Mauriano Hendricks

Jordan Myers, Entertainment Editor

Mauriano Buster Joaquin Hendricks was a beloved son, brother, and friend. Friends remember him as strong, beyond caring, loyal, and golden-hearted.

At the end of April 2017, Mauriano was diagnosed with an Osteosarcoma. The tumor was located near his knee. After receiving chemo, doctors performed surgery to remove the tumor and replace his knee cap. After the Osteosarcoma had seemingly subsided, he went into remission. But it came back and spread all throughout his body. He ended up with lung and spinal cancer, as well as the growth of cancerous tumors throughout his body. Despite his and his family’s overwhelming strength, Mauriano lost his almost two-year cancer battle on March 20th, 2019. His funeral was held on March 25th in Sells, Arizona, on the reservation.

Nick Higuera, Mauriano’s best friend since kindergarten says he feels very honored to be able to have known him as long as he did. “He was a very down-to-earth person who cared for all of his friends and put us first no matter what and definitely one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and probably will ever meet.” I asked Nick how Mauriano impacted his life, this was his heartwarming response: “In kindergarten, I got bullied a lot and I remember him being my very first friend. He showed me how not to care about what others thought and said about me. It helped me a lot then and I’ll always remember how caring and nice he was.” Childhood friends don’t usually last, but these two got lucky and lasted from the age of five to Mauriano’s last breath. Mauriano is lived on in the heart of Nick and so is their friendship. As many say, there’s something about childhood friends that you just can’t find in anyone else, especially if you never outgrow each other’s company. “If I were to be able to talk to him again I would thank him for all that he’s done for me. But most importantly, say goodbye to him. That’s something I wish I could have done but wasn’t able to do.”

A poem written by Aaron Soto.

Aaron Soto, his friend since sixth grade, remembers the day they met and the ever so friendly impression Mauriano left on him. Here is the moment their lives crossed one another, as Aaron recalls: “I remember us meeting in the hallway; he talked to me first. He simply said ‘Sup’ and gave me, a complete stranger, a high five and walked off. After that, he was randomly transferred to my class and we just became friends.” I asked Aaron how he would describe Mauriano to a stranger and his response warmed my heart and now your’s too. “In my eyes, and probably many other’s too, he couldn’t care less what people thought of him and he was the kind of friend who accepted you for who you are and never talked about you behind your back. He was beyond loyal and was always there for you no matter what. He was very strong and to be in so much emotional and physical pain every day and still be able to smile, make everyone laugh, and make other’s feel better is really amazing to me.” The day Mauriano departed, March 20th, was also Aaron’s 16th birthday. “I found out he had passed the day after it happened through my friend who had called. Even though he was sick almost the entire time I knew him, it felt so sudden and a big shock to me and because it was my birthday I felt like I went from the top of the world to the bottom with just one phone call.” Mauriano once said to Aaron about his cancer, “It’s better me than you or anyone else.”

Tamyra Smith, a Sahuaro student, says that Mauriano was beyond nice, the sweetest and purest person she has ever known. She and everyone else interviewed say that he was always there for his friends and he cared a lot for everyone. “The thing I’ll miss the most about him is his smile like it could really light up a room and it was just so perfect and he never really smiled so when he did it was just filled me with an unexplainable feeling.” “What is one lesson that Mauriano taught you?” I asked her. “One lesson I’ve learned from him was don’t let someone think you don’t care about or love them and to always let them know as much as possible,” she replied. Tamyra wishes that she let Mauriano know how much she cared for him while he was still alive because life is not guaranteed. “If I could spend one last time with him, I would talk about how much I love him. I’d tell him how much everyone misses him. and I’d tell him that I will never forget how big of an impact he has made on my life.” Tamyra has always felt that Mauriano was a good person and deserved the world, he himself made a great impact on her and so did his death. “I remember in eighth grade we were going on a field trip and we were at the back of the class and it was just me and him and everyone saw us together. Everyone came up to us and started asking questions like ‘Are you guys dating!?’ and ‘You guys are so cute!’ and we didn’t really know how to react. We just started laughing uncontrollably and that’s a part of our friendship I’ll miss…we could just laugh about everything together and it would be okay.”

“This is a very sad moment for us.” Principal Estrella of Sahuaro stated about Mauriano’s passing. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and loved ones.”

Mauriano’s counselor, Mrs. Echols also had some words. “He was really excited about coming to high school and starting fresh, and having the high school experience since he had been battling cancer so long and had to be home-schooled for so long. Everyone was so excited for him and we all thought the cancer was behind him.”

To Mauriano’s family and friends: We are truly sorry for your loss. We would like to offer all of you our deepest and most sincere condolences, and may Mauriano’s soul rest in peace. May our thoughts, prayers, and never-ending support ease you through this difficult time.

View Mauriano’s Bald Beauty Project photos and bio here