- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The next time Victor Cruz does his patented salsa touchdown celebration dance, it will be an emotional one.
Cruz's grandmother, Lucy Molina, died Monday at the age of 77. She battled diabetes among other illnesses, according to Cruz.
It was his mother, Blanca, and his grandmother who raised Cruz. And he says it was his grandmother who taught him how to salsa.
"She meant the world to me," Cruz said. "Besides my mom, she practically raised me, so it obviously is something tough to go through. You have to take it in stride and understand that it was her time to go and God just wanted another angel up there with him."
Cruz didn't get a chance to do his salsa dance in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. During the 24-17 loss to Big D, Cruz had six catches for 58 yards but also dropped three passes as he tried to make moves before securing the ball.
Some, like FOX analyst Terry Bradshaw, criticized him for becoming too much of a celebrity during the offseason. Cruz became an overnight sensation last season and his star grew only grew after the Giants' Super Bowl victory. He did commercials and even presented an award at the Grammys.
But three drops in the opener turned some of the love he'd become accustomed to receiving into criticism.
"No, I am not surprised," Cruz said of whether he has been surprised by the criticism he has received. "I could care less what other people talk about. I am just worried about what we have in this locker room and the team and people in my inner circle.
"I don't worry myself about what other people say," he added. "That takes too much time and effort out of my daily schedule."
His daily schedule has included spending time working on focusing more on securing the catch first before making a big play.
"Back to fundamentals," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "Focus. Concentration. Can't go anywhere without the ball. Come back to the ball. See the point. Catch the fat part. Put it away. Cover it up."
Cruz has been here before. He dropped a pass on a third down in the season-opening loss at Washington last year that partially prompted the Giants to sign Brandon Stokley.
"There are times where I am trying to make the big play before I even catch the football," Cruz said. "I guess that is me being too hyped up for the game and things like that."
Fortunately for Cruz and the Giants, the receiver got another chance last year. Stokley got injured and Cruz exploded in the third game of the season against Philadelphia for three catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. The rest is history.
It was during that game Cruz debuted his salsa dance on touchdowns of 74 and 28 yards long. The dance pleased Molina, who taught Cruz his moves.
"As a kid, my grandma would be dancing all the time," Cruz said in an interview with ESPN The Magazine earlier this summer. "Three o'clock on a Tuesday and she's got her record player on. She'd pick me up and dance with me.
"She asked me to keep doing it for her," Cruz added earlier this summer. "She says it keeps her alive."
Cruz said his grandmother had been ill and in and out of the hospital for the past nine-to-10 months. He was with her when she took her last breath on Monday.
"It was a tough time for us," Cruz said. "But she is in a better place now."
Cruz is anxious to redeem himself for last week's drops. But more than anything, he would love to dance again in a Giants' victory this Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Whenever he scores again, Cruz knows it will dance with a heavy heart.
"Yeah, it's going to be [emotional]," said Cruz, who will attend Molina's funeral on Friday. "Obviously, she is going to be on my mind so it is going to be emotional. Definitely."
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