WATERVILLE — When NBC’s “Today” show inquired about telling Carlos Gonzalez’s story, the Thomas College senior talked it over with his family, and said yes.

“I knew it was an opportunity to share a good story,” said Gonzalez, who will graduate Saturday from Thomas with a business management degree. “So I was happy to share it.”

On Sunday, the “Today” show profiled Gonzalez and how he became a member of the Mackinnon family.

“It was very emotional for all of us,” said Mike Mackinnon, Gonzalez’s adoptive father. “We’ve lived this for the last five years, so it wasn’t a new story for us.”

Gonzalez came into the Mackinnon family’s life when he played on an AAU basketball team coached by Mike. Zach Mackinnon, now his brother and teammate on the Thomas men’s basketball team, was also a player on the team. At first, the Mackinnons provided the homeless Gonzalez a place to stay. Over time, the Mackinnons realized Gonzales was a part of the family. Mike and his wife Julie decided to make it official, becoming Gonzalez’s legal guardians.

“Carlos had a tough life, financially,” Mike Mackinnon said. “His birth mother is a really good woman who was just down on her luck. We say she passed the baton to us and we took it from there. She did the best she could.”

NBC approached the family after seeing a story WCSH aired in December on its Maine news show, “207.” Reporter Morgan Radford and a crew spent two and a half days with the Mackinnons in January, filming Carlos and Zach in Kennebunk and Waterville.

“We wanted to make sure (the story) was upbeat and positive. We had questions as to if we would even do it,” Mike Mackinnon said. “Our main concern was our boys, how they would be portrayed.”

After graduating from Lewiston High School, Gonzalez spent one year at Southern Maine Community College. He transferred to Thomas for his sophomore year, and a year later, Zach Mackinnon joined Gonzalez with the Terriers after his standout career on the Kennebunk High School boys basketball team. The brothers were teammates on the Thomas men’s basketball team the last two seasons. Gonzalez completed a standout career with the Terriers by earning second team all-North Atlantic Conference honors, averaging 11.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. Gonzalez was named to the Maine Men’s Basketball Coaches and Writers Association all-defensive team. In his three-year career at Thomas, Gonzalez scored 1,146 points, grabbed 970 rebounds and had 189 blocks.

A sophomore guard, Mackinnon started all 26 games for Thomas alongside his brother. Mackinnon averaged 11.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

“Nobody realized he was my brother until I had to tell them,” Zach said. “I had to tell some guys from classes. They texted and said ‘Wow, what a cool story.'”

Although Radford and the NBC crew recorded interviews with the family in January, the Mackinnons knew the story would not air immediately. First, NBC had stories revolving around its coverage of the Winter Olympics. The story originally was supposed to air during the NCAA basketball tournament in March, Mike Mackinnon said, before it was delayed by breaking news. Then, the story was scheduled to run on Easter Sunday. Breaking news again pushed it back. When it aired Sunday morning, Radford and the producer texted the Mackinnons during the show to make sure it was well-received. It was, Mike said.

Now, the Mackinnon family’s attention is focused on Saturday’s graduation. Gonzalez plans to put his business management degree to work in the family business, Beach Dreams Resort, which manages 230 vacation cottages in Wells. When he walks across the stage Saturday to accept his diploma, Gonzalez knows a lot of thoughts will come to mind.

“My first thought is going to be, I made it. Time for the real world,” Gonzalez said. “I’m also looking forward to what’s next. I’ll have my hands full. I think I’m very fortunate. I’m in a position not many people get.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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