Anthony Rogers and his 10-year-old son Devon strengthened their bond through a common interest.
Anthony coached Devon for the first time on the baseball diamond this past season.
"It was my dream to teach him a game I love," said Anthony, 39. "I didn't know if I'd get the chance to. It meant everything. He missed out playing organized sports a lot of years because I was in the military."
"I've always wanted to play for my dad," Devon said. "I've learned a lot from him. He knows a lot about baseball. He taught me how to play first base and pitcher, and how to bat when it's my turn to go up. It's been really fun."
An E-5 sergeant in the U.S. Army, Anthony was honorably discharged in 2012. He suffered service-related injuries that left him 100 percent disabled.
"Once you get out of the military, you realize you have issues," said Anthony, a Ceres resident. "I had to focus on something else instead of the issues I was dealing with. It (coaching) keeps me occupied. I feel comfortable around kids. They're just so happy and joyful to be around."
Anthony coached the Ceres B-Boyz 11-and-under youth baseball squad at Rainbow Fields this past summer and spring.
Devon and his teammates practiced three times a week.
The B-Boyz posted a combined record of 21-2, including a perfect 10-0 mark during the springtime.
Ceres won 11 of 13 games en route to a second-place finish during summer-ball league play.
"Overall, we had everything," Anthony said. "Pitching, hitting and defense. I had an amazing group of kids. They worked hard."
Anthony joined the military at the age of 35 in 2008.
He was stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.
"I've been to two wars," said Rogers, who spent four years in the Army. "I knew what I was getting into. I wanted to do my part in protecting our way of life."
Anthony sustained brain, eye, ear and back injuries as a result of indirect fire while serving in Iraq (2008-09).
"I haven't talked about it in a while," said Rogers, who was the most-decorated soldier in his battalion. "A 120-millimeter rocket fire hit 30 yards from me and blew me into a wall. I was knocked unconscious. I still have flashbacks and nightmares. A lot of sleep walking."
Anthony served a 12-month tour in Afghanistan, beginning in 2011.
There were constant fire-fight engagements according to Rogers.
"We came under attack two months before going home," Anthony said. "I had my own team. Everyone survived."
Anthony and his wife Linda have four children: Devon, Tiana (13), Avriel (20) and Sabrina (21).
Devon (fifth grade) and Tiana (eighth grade) attend Sam Vaughn Elementary and Cesar Chavez Jr. High, respectively.
Devon also plays football for the Modesto Raiders' rookies team.
The B-Boyz will compete at the 12-and-under level this spring and summer.
"I'm going to continue coaching," Anthony said. "I would love to qualify for the USSSA World Series. It's definitely something that is reachable. I'll have the same core of kids. They work hard. They want to learn. They make it easy for me."
Anthony and Devon are a lot alike.
"I'm left-handed," Anthony said. "He's left-handed. He acts, walks and throws like me. I didn't expect him to get where he's at so quickly. He has a gift."