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Mario was super despite the obstacles

Updated: January 27, 2006, 1:06 PM ET
By Larry Schwartz | Special to ESPN.com

"Mario was one guy that could really motivate me to push my game to another level. I knew eventually he was going to chase me down and pull me back. That was inevitable," says Wayne Gretzky on ESPN Classic's SportsCentury series.

He was born, like others of French heritage, with the surname Lemieux, which translates into "the best." Only Mario, though, was possessed with the talent to live up to the name.

In the late eighties and half of the nineties (when his health permitted ...

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