The longtime professional player announced the death of his wife, Noelia Brazoban Marte, in the spring of 2020.
The news shocked MLB fans and to those close to Starling himself. When the players were able to return for "Summer Camp" (instead of spring training) in July of that year, Starling surprised many by going back to the Arizona Diamondbacks' training facility as well.
Keep reading for more on his professional baseball career, and to find out what happened to his late wife.
Who is Starling Marte?
The 32-year-old baseball player was drafted as a center fielder by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007. He played for their Minor League team, the Bradenton Marauders, to develop his skills.
After about five years of playing in the Minor Leagues, Starling was brought up to play on the Pirates. In 2014, he signed a six-year contract with the Pittsburgh team for $31 million.
Just three years later, Starling was suspended from the league for using a performance-enhancing drug, Nandrolone. He returned to active play in July of 2017 after an 80-game suspension.
He was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks ahead of the 2020 season. He was traded again a few months later to the Miami Marlins.
While he was still on the Diamondbacks, Starling dealt with a significant family tragedy.
What happened to Starling Marte's wife?
The baseball star announced a significant loss for his family in May of 2020 on his social media accounts. He shared that his wife, Noelia Brazoban Marte, passed away from a heart attack. He stated that she had been in the hospital awaiting an ankle operation at the time.
"Today I go through the great pain of making public the unfortunate death of my wife Noelia, due to a heart attack," he wrote in an Instagram caption. "It is a moment of indescribable pain. On behalf of my family, I am grateful for the expressions of esteem and solidarity in this difficult time."
Starling and Noelia had two sons together, Starling Jr. and Smerling, and a daughter named Tiana.
Afterwards, the official Twitter accounts for both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Pittsburgh Pirates (Starling was on the team from 2012 to 2019) shared condolences for the athlete.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Noelia Marte," the Diamondbacks' account wrote. "Starling and his family are part of the D-backs' family and we will do all we can to support him and their children during this incredibly difficult time."
The statement from the Pirates echoed a similar sentiment.
"The entire Pirates family extend our deepest condolences to Starling Marte and family during this terrible time," the Pittsburgh Pirates account tweeted. "Our hearts are truly saddened by this news."
When he did return to the league for training in July of 2020, Starling admitted that he had contemplated retiring from baseball altogether because of his grief. During a Zoom call with the press, he shared that he was encouraged to stay in the league by his loved ones and by religious leaders.
"I'm very happy to be back, especially with my kids, and obviously it's been a very tough time for us, but through God and being able to speak with a couple of pastors and priests at our church, they've been able to help me through this process," he said via a translator, per Arizona Sports.
In the months since Noelia died, Starling has posted many tributes to her on his Instagram page.