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"I think the artistic community in Pittsburgh definitely latches on to sports heroes.He definitely ranks up there among our list of the elites."Nowhere is Lemieux's influence felt greater in Pittsburgh than in the philanthropic and medical community.It has been more than a decade since Mario Lemieux played his last NHL game for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and yet no athlete -- perhaps no human being -- is a more prominent presence in the city of champions.A simple stroll through Pittsburgh is the easiest way to discover how fully the man who arrived in town from Quebec as a lanky 18-year-old in 1984 has been embraced by Pittsburgh.But Lemieux's prominent place among Pittsburgh's artists and local establishments remains."Really anywhere around the city you stumble across some sort of large-scale tribute to Mario.He definitely made an impact on the city during his playing days and then helping the team from bankruptcy and bringing it back to life," said Erik Greenawalt, an area chalk artist who has drawn Lemieux's portrait a number of times.For starters, there is the statue honoring him outside the Penguins' PPG Paints Arena.The towering tribute lies mere steps from 66 Mario Lemieux Place, the address bearing the Penguins legend's name and number where the team's former home, Mellon Arena, was once located.
Since 1993, the Mario Lemieux Foundation has proven a crucial philanthropic organization with a hand in much of the city's medical community.All around town, there are paintings of Lemieux courtesy of the city's dynamic artistic community.Whether it's on the wall inside a number of local institutions, including several locations of the legendary Primanti Brothers sandwich shops, or on the exterior wall of a building, Lemieux's portrait is everywhere.In recent years, he has also spearheaded the local Little Penguins youth hockey program.Naturally, his portraits have begun to appear around town alongside Lemieux's.
But he's built this great relationship with the city," said Anne Madarasz, the director of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center.