Detective Antonio Vega (born Manuel Santi, Jr.) is a fictional character on the long-running American soap opera One Life to Live. The role was originated on July 10, 1995 by Kamar de los Reyes, who left in August 1997 and made an appearance in 1998. De los Reyes returned in 2000 and has been portraying the character ever since. Robert Montano took over the role of Antonio for seven episodes in May 2007 while de los Reyes recovered from surgery.
Carlotta Vega's elder son Antonio, a former gang member in Llanview's Angel Square, is released from prison in 1995 after serving a seven-year sentence for killing a man. Antonio is well-known among the urban youth of Llanview as "El Leon", leader of the "Prides" gang, but his past crimes haunt him as well as his family. Antonio ultimately proves that his crime had been self-defense; with the help of attorney Nora Buchanan he becomes a lawyer, and then a police officer. He marries fellow officer (and half-sister to Max Holden) Andy Harrison, eventually leaving town for California in 1997. He returns to Llanview in 2000, having divorced Andy, who had cheated on him with her new partner on the force. On the rebound from his failed marriage, Antonio has a casual yet complicated fling with Vega family friend Roseanne Delgado, and discovers unresolved sexual tension with partner Sophia Pellegrino, but finds nothing lasting.
In 2001, Antonio finds love again, falling for Llanview University professor Keri Reynolds; only later does he discover that she is the long-lost daughter of his longtime nemesis, R.J. Gannon. Antonio and Keri's relationship is relentlessly dogged by Antonio and R.J.'s feud, and in 2002, Antonio's rage against Gannon reaches a fever pitch, resulting in catastrophe. During a crisis situation, a rattled and stressed Antonio fires the gunshot that wounds Viki Davidson's husband Ben and puts him in a coma. Realizing it had been an accident in the line of duty, Viki forgives Antonio, but Antonio and Keri's relationship, already stretched to the breaking point by Antonio's drive to 'get' R.J., disintegrates as the guilt-stricken Antonio flees town to deal with his feelings. While outside of Llanview, Antonio has a one night stand with a mystery woman. He returns home rested and prepared to reunite with Keri, but is shocked to realize that his mystery woman was in fact Keri's mother, Liz Reynolds! Through a convoluted series of coincidences, Keri ends up serving as a surrogate mother and carrying to term what Antonio and Liz secretly believe to be their own "love child".
In 2003, Antonio and Keri become engaged, but Antonio can no longer live with his deception. Antonio confesses the truth about his liaison with Liz to Keri, who reacts by going into premature labor and delivering her daughter, Jamie, who turns out to actually be Keri's daughter and not Liz's. Disgusted with Antonio, Keri leaves Llanview, taking Jamie and a guilty Liz with her. The plane crashes, and Antonio believes his fiancee and daughter dead; secretly, Keri and Jamie have survived the crash (while Liz perished), and Keri is in hiding in Canada, unable to forgive Antonio. While still grieving for Keri, Antonio forms a bond with Viki's daughter Jessica Buchanan, who had once been his brother Cristian's first love. Antonio's heroic efforts to protect Jessica from her biological father, the psychotic Mitch Laurence, bring the star-crossed pair into close proximity, and they begin to fall in love. Antonio and Jessica's romance is derailed, however, when Keri's ruse is revealed, and Antonio and Keri begin a battle for parental custody of their daughter. The increasingly-unstable Keri fights Jessica for Antonio's love and attempts to frame Antonio for domestic assault. After a nasty verbal confrontation with Antonio at the Palace Hotel, Keri throws herself from her balcony, committing suicide, and a grieving R.J. promptly frames Antonio for his daughter's murder. Jessica helps Antonio exonerate himself, and Antonio and R.J. grudgingly agree to share custody of Jamie, their last tie to Keri. Antonio and Jessica's relationship deepens, especially when Antonio loses Cristian to violence.
In 2004, Antonio and Jessica become embroiled in the affairs of the shadowy Santi drug cartel. Antonio discovers that his mother Carlotta is in fact related to infamous Latin American drug lord Manuel Santi, and that family friend Adriana Colon is really the late Santi's daughter by Dorian Lord. Antonio and Jessica also meet Santi associate Sonia Toledo and young scion Tico Santi, Manuel's cultured and aristocratic second son, who claims to be legitimate and disdainful of his father's dirty dealings. They also meet the mysterious "Angelina," Tico's former nanny, who reacts strangely to meeting Antonio, and whose presence stuns Carlotta. Under tremendous pressure, Carlotta and Angelina are forced to admit that Antonio is actually the eldest son and heir of Manuel Santi, "Manuel II." A car bomb attack meant for Santi had supposedly killed Manuel II, along with his mother Isabella, but in truth, both had survived. Isabella had given the child to sister-in-law Carlotta to adopt, who renamed him Antonio, and severed all ties with Manuel in order to protect the boy from her brother's enemies. Antonio's world is rocked even harder when he discovers that "Angelina" is actually Isabella Santi - Antonio's biological mother! Following a vicious argument with Tico over her secrets, Angelina dies in Antonio's arms. Reeling from the revelation that everything he thought he knew about his life was a lie, Antonio spirals into despair and self-destructive behavior, breaking up with Jessica, resigning from the police force, and beginning a sexual relationship with Sonia Toledo. He also begins working as a rogue agent to expose the mysterious "El Tiburon," the criminal who has taken control of Santi's former cartel. He soon discovers that El Tiburon is really his younger brother Tico, who has seduced the lovelorn Jessica and convinced her to marry him. Around the same time, Cristian miraculously returns from the dead, secretly programmed by Tico to kill Antonio, but the programming fails as the trauma of trying to kill his own "brother" brings Cristian's memories flooding back. Tico then tries to blackmail Antonio into assassinating the governor of Pennsylvania, who Tico had been using as a political catspaw, but Antonio turns the tables by shooting Tico instead. Tico dies in the hospital, killed by Cristian on secret orders from mob boss Carlo Hesser. Eventually, Antonio is cleared of all charges and regains his job at the Llanview Police Department, reuniting with Jessica.
In 2005, Antonio becomes involved in yet another fierce custody battle with R.J. over Jamie. Antonio's relationship with Jessica first helps his case, but her subsequent struggle with dissociative identity disorder later proves a detriment. In an attempt to secure custody, Antonio uses his Santi inheritance to drive R.J.'s club into bankruptcy and then into his own hands. He hopes to force R.J. to return to a life of crime so Antonio might then catch him in the act. Antonio succeeds and regains full custody of Jamie, and re-opens R.J.'s club "Capricorn". Antonio then devotes himself to recovering Jessica, who is grappling with her wild and dangerous alternate personality, "Tess." After a crime spree across Llanview, Tess absconds to New York and begins a relationship with Nash Brennan, conceiving a child with him. Tess despises Antonio as much as Jessica loves him, but Antonio remains dedicated to Jessica even as she gives birth to Nash's daughter, Brennan, a.k.a. "Bree." After Jessica's personalities are integrated, Antonio marries Jessica on November 9, 2006, unaware of her own newfound feelings for Nash. At Antonio's prompting, Jessica nearly adopts Jamie, but begins an affair with Nash instead. Jessica and Antonio split up when her infidelity is revealed.
Antonio leaves town temporarily with Jamie after Jessica admits her feelings for Nash, but returns when he learns that a gravely ill Jessica needs a liver transplant and he is a match. They divorce when Jessica recovers, and Antonio begins to put his life back together as a single parent. Still reeling from a difficult year, Antonio is initially oblivious to the romantic attention of newfound friend Talia Sahid, his driven, no-nonsense partner on the police force. Talia, who prioritizes her job over her personal life, finds herself at a loss when it comes to her feelings for Antonio, and struggles to hide her desire for him, knowing Antonio is vulnerable and on the rebound after his divorce. Eventually, Talia confesses all, and after some soul-searching on Antonio's part, the two officially become a couple on New Year's Day 2008.
Antonio and Talia's new relationship is in full bloom in spring 2008, but their lives are rocked when longtime Police Commissioner Bo Buchanan is fired and replaced with the conniving Lee Ramsey, former FBI agent and nemesis of Antonio's colleague and friend John McBain. Almost simultaneously, Antonio loses the whole of his inheritance when victims of the Santi crime family file for reparations, leaving Antonio financially bereft. He then sells Capricorn to Blair Cramer. Under pressure and struggling to make ends meet, Antonio seemingly becomes jealous and embittered regarding Talia's new office partnership with John. John and Talia know that Ramsey is corrupt, but Antonio publicly refuses to take a stand against him, out of fear of losing his job in his current financial situation. Antonio's bond with the sympathetic Ramsey seems to strengthen even as Antonio and Talia's relationship seems to be on the wane, and eventually, Antonio appears to walk in on John and Talia in a romantic dalliance at a sleazy motel. Antonio and Talia break up and Talia and John seem to begin a relationship of their own, the trio's personal and professional relationships having disintegrated completely. Antonio appears to fall deeper and deeper under Ramsey's sway, and after being told that Jamie is seriously ill, Antonio pockets money from an undercover drug buy - while Ramsey is watching. But in early May, it becomes evident that all is not as it seems between John, Talia, and Antonio, when John and Talia go out on a date on the waterfront. Their "date" turns out to really be a romantic rendezvous for Antonio and Talia, who kiss passionately away from the prying eyes of Ramsey and his spies on the force. Evidently, Antonio's break-up with Talia, feud with John, and descent into criminality are all part of a scheme to entrap Ramsey.
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