When you think about Mario Lopez — as one often does — you probably think of his iconic “Saved by the Bell” character or his hosting gig on “Extra.” But as a kid, Mario Lopez was involved in something a bit more serious: Watching his dad smuggle immigrants across the border in the trunk of their family car.
In the actor’s new autobiography “Just Between Us,” Lopez shares stories about his Mexican-American family growing up in Chula Vista, a small town near San Diego. During his childhood, his family would make the occasional drive down to Tijuana for dinner. Everything seemed pretty normal — until he was about 10 years old and started noticing the pit stops his dad would make on the family’s drive back into the U.S.
“I recall a few occasions when I couldn’t help but notice that after we came back from across the border and happened to be driving along a deserted stretch of road, Dad pulled over onto a gravel shoulder and got out of the car,” Lopez recalls in his book. “…He went behind the car and opened the trunk, as if he was just checking something out. Well, from what I could gather, it wasn’t something — it was someone. A few someones. Like four or five. Or that’s what I thought when I saw that many people who seemed to have come out of nowhere suddenly make a run for it and disappear into the brush.”
Lopez goes into this memory with us during our interview, saying it was what his dad had to do to take care of his family. The actor also shares with us a couple other life lessons, or “Marioisms,” as he calls them, that he wrote in his new book, including why boys shouldn’t be circumcised.