Local Family’s Tradition Endures

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Cousins James Prietto whose parents also live in Victoria Beach, and Stefan Gonzales stretch before the game.
Cousins James Prietto whose parents also live in Victoria Beach, and Stefan Gonzales stretch before the game.

On Memorial Day the 21st MJP Memorial Basketball Tournament returned to Laguna Beach. Eight teams formed by the Prietto family played three on three at Top of the World Elementary School.

The tournament began in 1994 when Paulo Prietto was just 11. “I can remember waiting to be old enough to play. It was a big deal for me,” said Prietto. The rules were that players, mainly boy cousins and uncles, but sometimes girl cousins and wives, must be in high school. This year Laguna local Matthew Wheaton, “whose like a family member” subbed on Prietto’s winning team.

In the 1960s Carlos Prietto, one of 12 children and his wife Betty Prietto, Paulo Prietto’s grandparents and Pasadena residents purchased a home on Victoria Beach. It quickly became a family tradition to spend summers there overlapping stays with his many cousins, aunts and uncles who are spread across Orange County.

The memorial Day basketball tournament held by the Prietto family.
The memorial Day basketball tournament held by the Prietto family.

When his grandparents had both died, in the early 1990s, the 12 siblings sold the family home in Victoria Beach, but later that decade “my dad purchased a nearby Victoria Beach property because it is such a special place for us all,” said Prietto, 33 who now lives with his wife and three children in Upper Victoria Beach.

Today Prietto counts 60 cousins from which to draw basketball teams. When his brother Martin Joseph Prietto, died sixteen years ago the tournament was named for him. Now there is a name change in the works to honor Prietto’s other brother who passed last March. “It’s amazing that we’ve kept this tradition for all this time. This is one of our favorite days of the year,” Prietto said.

Paulo Prietto, Matthew Wheaton subbing for a cousin and James Prietto were this year's winners.
Paulo Prietto, Matthew Wheaton subbing for a cousin and James Prietto were this year’s winners.

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks so much for chronicling our family history. Victoria Beach has deep meaning for us. Vic is our summer home, to which we return like the swallows do further south.

  2. Thank you for this article. There is so much that goes on at these games that touch us all. The players waiting to get on the court, rival teams “commenting” on the technique of other players, the crowd of family member spectators cheering, small kids running and playing, and new babies are passed from auntie to auntie. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

  3. In 1961 my younger Dennis and Carlos & Mario were best pals and classmates at Loyola H.S. in Los Angeles. Carlos & Dennis were teamates on the Loyola basketball team. In 1976 Mario married my wife Eileen and myself at St Phillips in Pasadena. Dennis died in Jan,1999 and Fr. Mario presided over his funeral and burial and told me later that it was the “toughest’ funeral he ever had to perform. Mario also presided at my father’s funeral at St. Phllips.

    The Bradley family has always had and will forever have deep love and respect for the Prietto family. Great to know that you all are carrying on the basketball tradation.

    Best to all,
    John (Jack) Bradley

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