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Lilian Garcia, All Grown Up
With WrestleMania 23 being "All Grown Up," WWE.com has spoken to several WWE Superstars and Divas who have also grown up and have come a long way since the days before their WWE careers. Take a look back at a young Lilian Garcia.
Lilian Garcia has had a passion for singing and performing ever since she was a little girl. It was when she was five years old and her family was living in Madrid when the Raw ring announcer discovered her talent.
"My dad started taking guitar lessons. As the instructor was showing my dad the notes, he started playing a song. From there, my sister and I started singing. Dad looked at us and was like, ‘Wow, you guys are really good!' " Lilian said.
Her father entered Lilian and her sister into singing contests where they shined. Lilian said her dad's guitar playing had to take a backseat while his daughters sang.
"Poor Dad never really got a chance to learn how to play guitar! But he tried, and he loves guitar," she smiled. "I loved to be with him playing and singing. I have recordings of me singing when I was a little girl. It's always been in my blood."
Lilian and her father also shared enthusiasm for something else while she was growing up -- wrestling.
"I grew up on wrestling. My sister and my mom used to sit there and watch pageants, and I liked watching pageants and all, but I remember them being at another TV in the bedroom, when Dad and I were in the living room watching wrestling," the Diva reminisced.
"I'd be screaming at the TV. My dad would be screaming at the TV. We just really got into it. I remember watching Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, Blackjack Mulligan, Jimmy Snuka…" she said.
Lilian recalled being so surprised and excited when her dad took her to her first WWE live event in Columbia, S.C.
"I got to go to the Columbia Coliseum and see Andre the Giant and Ric Flair. I remember being in the stands and screaming. I can still visualize it. It's so wild, but I can visualize it, watching the wrestling and going, ‘I'm here. This is live.' " Lilian said.
"Now, here it is, years later, little did we know back then that I would be in the middle of the ring introducing Ric Flair and Hacksaw Jim Duggan," she said. "It's pretty amazing -- the whole way how it ties up. So it's very, very special for me."
Lilian, who was the first woman and the first Latina to announce at WrestleMania 22, will continue her in-ring duties at WrestleMania 23 Sunday at Detroit's Ford Field. She said she's particularly excited to hear Aretha Franklin sing, as well. With WrestleMania quickly approaching, it reminds Lilian that WWE has allowed her to live her dream.
"In February 2000, actually on Valentine's Day, I got to sing the National Anthem at a live event in San Jose. Mr. McMahon said, ‘I heard you did a great job at the live events this weekend. I've got to hear it,' " Lilian said. "So he had me sing the National Anthem and from then on, he said, ‘You're doing it at every single TV event.' And I've been singing it since February 2000. It's crazy."
Lilian admitted that she's more likely to get the jitters before announcing special rules or stipulations before a match. On the other hand, she said singing comes naturally to her, and she loves to be in front of a crowd; therefore belting out the National Anthem doesn't make her nervous.
"It's just something that comes freely out of me. I love to sing the National Anthem. I've been able to sing at a bunch of sporting events and I've recorded an album. I promise you, WWE fans, it will come out," she said.
"I finished it last year, but a lot of things have to be done before it gets released. We want to release it the right way and at the right time," she explained.
It seems soon, all of Lilian's dreams will have truly come true.
"With the release of this album, it will fulfill my ultimate dream, and that is to release an album and to start performing live. I love to perform for a crowd. But even announcing, as you can tell, I love to do that, too."