Perhaps you already know parts of the story of local swimming sensation Jessica Long. Maybe you’ve seen her on the evening news or you’ve seen her honored locally or even nationally on the ESPY’s or as the 2006 James Sullivan Award winner.
As a journalist here for 29 years, I’ve had the privilege of knowing some special athletes and people around sports. The Baltimore connections and heroes are among some of the greatest names in the sports universe from Johnny Unitas and Brooks Robinson to Ray Lewis and Cal Ripken not mention from Michael Phelps back to Babe Ruth. But the story of Jessica Long is better than any of them because of what she doesn’t have.
Jessica Long doesn’t have legs.
While all eyes and focus were on Baltimore’s worldwide star Michael Phelps this summer during the Olympic Games from London, another local swimmer & world-class competitor was waiting in the wings to make her third splash in the Paralympic Games, which followed the Closing Ceremonies in England.
Jessica Long first gained local and national attention as a 12-year old at the 2004 Athens games and now has been through the Beijing and London games and is emerging as a model, spokesperson and inspiration to people all over the world. Oh, and she’s turns 21 in February but her eyes have seen the world in a big way and this past year and this unfolding story I’m about to tell is incredible, heart-warming and still doesn’t have an ending – happy or otherwise.
Then again, almost everything surrounding Jessica Long always seems to turn out with an immense level of happiness and smiles all around. This blog will end with a video of her surrounded by Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, John Harbaugh draped with her Paralympic gold medals and you’ll see her mantra for the coach in regard to the Baltimore Ravens’ playoff run:
“Pressure is a privilege,” she says.
* * *
The Paralympics Games attract an all-too-small fraction of the attention of the sports and media spotlight so it’s up to people like me in places like Baltimore to tell you about my favorite sports story of 2012 and hope to inspire you as we enter 2013.
My favorite Baltimore sports story of 2012 is about Jessica Long and you’ll soon find out why.
This story is lengthy because it needs to be and contains various links and pictures that I personally hope you check out and read as you begin another year. Your 2013 will probably begin with two legs so think about the courage of Jessica Long and her amazing narrative
SEE NEXT PAGE