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WWE star Zelina Vega lost her father in the 9/11 terror attacks and remembers his final phone call from tower

WWE sensation Zelina Vega has special reason to remember the atrocious terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

On that fateful day, age 10, the wrestling star lost her father Michael Trinidad, who was working in one of the twin towers before it was struck by a plane full of passengers.

She recalled how her mother took an emotional call from her dad, explaining the situation and telling her to pass on his messages of love for their children as he accepted his death.

That tragedy spurred 29-year-old Vega, real-name Thea Budgen, on to become one of the most talked about WWE Divas of the moment.

This is the story of how 9/11 changed her life forever.

On the day of the attacks, Vega was off from school because she had a doctor’s appointment.

However, all was not what it seemed when she saw her mother, Monique in an agitated state.

“I hear her pacing downstairs, and I was like ‘Mum, what’s going on?”, she told WWE Network in a documentary aired last year.

“She was freaking out on the phone and she turns on the TV and she says, ‘Michael, Michael you’re in there?'”

Vega saw the World Trade Center engulfed in flames and was confused.

“I was like, ‘Uncle Michael?’

“She said, ‘No, it’s your dad.’ And as soon as she said that that’s when I felt that I had completely rose from my body.”

Trapped in the World Trade Center, where he worked as an analyst for the firm Cantor Fitzgerald, Trinidad, who was divorced from Vega’s mum, knew he had to say a sad goodbye to his family.

“He was on the 103rd floor and the plane was under him, so he couldn’t go down.” Vega continued.

“And he couldn’t go up either so when he called she said, ‘Why don’t you take the stairwell’. And I’m trying to grasp what’s going on.

“He said to her, ‘Listen, Monique. I need you to know I love you so much. I have always loved you and I am so sorry for everything that happened between us. Just let the kids know how much I love them.’

“Then, he spoke to my stepdad. He said, ‘I know you’re going to love them like I would. Please be a father to my kids.'”

During the heartbreaking conversation, Trinidad was unaware her daughter was listening in on the phone call.

“He didn’t know I was there”, she revealed.

“I could’ve said, ‘Let me speak to him one more time and I didn’t.’

“For years I was like, ‘Man, I could’ve said goodbye to my dad.’ But I never did, and it took me a while to get past that.”

Trinidad, who shared custody with Vega’s mother, spent precious time with his children just days before the horror attacks.

It’s that memory of a trip to Woodlands, New Jersey that Vega cherishes.

“He planned this big thing for us, it was like a little vacation,” she revealed.

“It was amazing, we had so much fun with him. And I thought that was my goodbye to him.”

Vega’s life was turned upside down when her father died.

Angry, upset, she admittedly and understandably lost her way.

“I went through so much depression and denial, trying to figure out why me?” she said.

“I thought, finally at around 15, 16, what was it that my dad and I loved so much? And it was wrestling, it was the WWE.

“I fell in love with wrestling when I was 4-years-old and I kinda knew right away that’s what I wanted to do.

“My mum was like, ‘it’s just a phase.’ But my dad would say, ‘Yeah, definitely let’s do this.”

In high school Trinidad was an amateur wrestler and had ambitions of making it to the WWE.

Although Vega is living her own dreams in the squared circle, she admits her father’s wishes drove her to be a success story.

“I’m going to do this for me, but the biggest thing is I’m going to do this for him,” she said.

“It took me eight years to get here, but I’m finally here and it’s amazing.”

Vega is sure that her father watches over her and would be incredibly proud of his daughter.

“I think he would be happy about it,” Vega divulged.

“We were told no all our lives and to actually get the big yes and to be representing for him is such a cool thing to me.

“To be in the WWE, it’s such a big win for me.”

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