The city of Baltimore is a very unique one when it comes to professional sports. It has three notable sports heroes in Cal Ripken, Jr., Ray Lewis and Michael Phelps, but the latter two share a bond that is so unique in its own right that only it can illustrate the similarities in their success stories.
Phelps set unbreakable records at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by winning a gold medal in each of his eight swimming events. Naturally, expectations were incredibly high heading into the 2012 London Games as fans wanted to see Phelps’ encore. However, that was made much more difficult for Phelps because of the pressure to continue his success and rebuild his image after a picture surfaced of him smoking a marijuana pipe. Phelps looked to Lewis, who had gone through a similar trial, for encouragement.
Phelps says he owes his success at the London Olympics–he became the most decorated Olympian of all time–to Lewis, who had to rebuild his own image after going through a murder trial and was able to do so by taking home Super Bowl MVP honors a year later. Now the tables have turned, though. Phelps made his comeback and accomplished what he set out to do. Now it’s Lewis who needs the encouragement.
Coming back from a torn triceps in the same football season is impossible, but Lewis did it. However, he’s been tried yet again on his way to an incredible comeback as accusation surfaced a week before the Super Bowl that Lewis had used a banned substance to expedite his recovery. Now he has the NFL’s biggest stage to yet again repair his image and Phelps will be there with him as the only one who understands the situation. There’s still one more go-around for Lewis and his legacy could be cemented with one more ring nearly a decade after he won his first.