DENVER — Before a sold out crowd Sunday night, Belen De Leon took center stage.
The former 9NEWS meteorologist sang the national anthem ahead of the Broncos home game against the San Francisco 49ers. De Leon, who now works for NBC4 in Los Angeles, was asked to perform as part of the NFL’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
“The Broncos are my team!” De Leon said after her performance. “I lived in Colorado for many years, and I have a lot of beautiful memories, awesome memories with the Broncos organization and at 9NEWS! They hold a very special place in my heart. I’m always going to be a Broncos fan.”
De Leon worked as a meteorologist at 9NEWS from 2012 to 2018. She was known for sharing her forecasts with not just a smile, but often, a song or dance.
And she is no stranger to the stage. Before her career in television, she was a member of "La Onda," a Regional Mexican band that received two Latin Billboard Music Awards.
But performing at Mile High was a special moment.
“I have performed the national anthem a lot, but tonight was so special. I mean, the nerves were high,” she said. “This is my team. My stadium. This is my crowd. … It was very special to come back home, and sing in front of the city that I love.”
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In a nod to her own culture, De Leon wore a traditional mariachi dress for her performance. She said she was honored to be chosen as part of the NFL’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Out of all the picks – they chose me. Can you imagine how honored I am? How beautiful this moment is for me to represent my community,” she said. “When I was growing up, I didn’t have very many role models that looked like me. So I’m glad to be on this stage, and in this stadium today, to be a role model for anybody who looks like me, anybody at all. So they can say, 'if she can do it, I can do it too!'”
De Leon said she was encouraged to see the NFL’s outreach and celebration of the Latino community, too.
“Finally! Finally! It's been a long time coming. The NFL has a huge Latino fan base. I’m glad to see they’re honoring them in this way,” she said. “Appreciating them. Representing in this way -- where they can feel like this is their league."
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