Singer Jenni Rivera honored with Las Vegas star

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LAS VEGAS (AP) - Singer Jenni Rivera and former major league pitcher Esteban Loaiza are each getting a place on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars.

The Mexican power couple was honored at the Eastside Cannery casino in Las Vegas Friday night in a ceremony punctuated by mariachi music and glowing speeches given by friends and family. Rivera is giving a concert at the casino Saturday night to mark her 42nd birthday.

Rivera tearfully thanked her fans as she surveyed the granite stars recognizing her and her husband.

"You make me," she said.

The 200-pound granite stars were scheduled to be installed Saturday on the Las Vegas Strip outside the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino alongside stars dedicated to Dean Martin, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

The singer of hits "Contraband" and "Guilty or Innocent" hopes to win her first Grammy soon.

"One day I'll get it," she said of the celebrated music award.

Mexican boxer Fernando Vargas said Rivera deserved the recognition.

"I know the Mexican people love her a lot, as they should," he said.

Rivera was born in Long Beach, Calif., to Mexican parents. Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and during his long career played for a variety of teams including the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The couple wed last year. Rivera said she and Loaiza were both fans of the other before they met at one of her concerts. "Well, he pitched and I caught it," she said with a laugh.

Las Vegas Walk of Stars spokesman Pablo Castro Zavala said Rivera's fans demanded the couple be recognized. Of the 54 stars handed out since the organization was founded more than six years ago, nearly half have gone to Latin American celebrities.

"She's got thousands of fans in Las Vegas," said Zavala. Rivera and Loaiza are the second couple to be recognized by the Las Vegas Strip attraction. Cuban music icons Gloria Estefan and Emilio Estefan were given a shared star last year.

Rivera, who was encouraged to pursue a singing career by her father, recalled her early days as a performer, when she was paid $100 to do five shows. She said she became famous to show her children that persistence was the best way to respond to critics.

"If it wasn't for my children, I wouldn't have this drive to succeed," she said.


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