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Hockey pro, Mario Lemieux, was born October 5, 1965. Lemieux is a former Canadian ice hockey centre who played 17 seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (NHL) between 1984 and 2005. He is currently the Penguins' principal owner and chairman of the board, having bought the team out of bankruptcy in 1999.
Mario Lemieux led Pittsburgh to two Stanley Cups, and Canada to an Olympic gold medal and two World Cups of Hockey. He has won three Hart Trophies as the NHL's most valuable player during the season, six Art Ross Trophies as the league's leading scorer, and two Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP. At the time of his retirement, he was the NHL's seventh-ranked all-time scorer with 690 goals and 1,033 assists. In 2004, he was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.
Mario Lemieux's career was plagued by health issues. His numerous ailments included spinal disc herniation, Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic tendinitis of a hip-flexor muscle, and chronic back pain so severe that other people had to tie his skates. He has retired twice because of his health: first in 1997 after battling lymphoma (he returned in 2000), and for a second and final time after being diagnosed with an atrial fibrillation.
Lemieux was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame immediately after his first retirement, waiving the normal three-year waiting period; upon his return in 2000, he became the third Hall of Famer (after Gordie Howe and Guy Lafleur) to play after being inducted. Lemieux's impact on the NHL has been significant: Andrew Conte of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review called him the "savior" of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and after Lemieux's retirement, Wayne Gretzky commented that "You don't replace players like Mario Lemieux [...] The game will miss him". Bobby Orr called him "the most talented player I've ever seen"; Orr, along with Bryan Trottier, and numerous fans, speculate that had Lemieux not suffered so many injuries, his on-ice achievements would have been much greater.
Mario Lemieux has a considerable number of records, and stands in comparison along with Wayne Gretzky as one of the best NHL players of all time. Two records, points in a season and assists in a season have their first 10 listings as either Gretzky or Mario. Mario was most famous for his style of play, where he could carry defencemen on his back and still score. Lemieux's career was cut short by Hodgkin's lymphoma, which has led many to speculate that his career totals would have been far higher if he were healthy throughout his career.
Lemieux created the Mario Lemieux Foundation during the same year he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma (1993). The purpose of the Foundation is to fund medical research projects.
Additionally, the Lemieux Foundation supports other organizations such as the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Leukemia Society, the Lupus Foundation and the Children's Home of Pittsburgh.
In 2007, Mario Lemieux along with Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Warrick Dunn, Mia Hamm, Jeff Gordon, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Alonzo Mourning and Cal Ripken Jr. founded Athletes for Hope, a charitable organization, which helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes and inspires millions of non-athletes to volunteer and support the community.