Michael Phelps Deserves Statue in Baltimore

Aug 11, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Michael Phelps (USA) with his gold medal after the men
Aug 11, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Michael Phelps (USA) with his gold medal after the men /

Baltimore honors the legendary Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens with statues outside their stadiums. Michael Phelps is deserving of his own statue in Charm City.

Michael Phelps is without a doubt the top Olympian of all time. After winning 28 medals, 23 of which are gold, he has cemented himself in the discussion of the greatest athlete ever.

We have heard Phelps talk praise Baltimore several times over five Olympic Games. He could not help but laugh when a friend said “O!” during the national anthem. Minutes after winning another gold medal, he was wondering about the Ravens’ preseason game. And like a true Baltimorean, he made a comment about a Pittsburgh Steelers fan being in attendance for one of his events. He loves the city of Baltimore.

Ravens’ icon Ray Lewis is a close friend of Phelps. He credits Lewis for getting him out of his dark stages and back into the pool. If it wasn’t for Lewis, Phelps may have never added on to his Olympic record.

Lewis is the face of Ravens football. He was the leader of a vaunted defense that won the franchise’s two Super Bowl titles. Ask a person outside of Baltimore about the Ravens, and Ray will be the first person that comes out of their mouth. He was such a polarizing figure that the Ravens did not wait long after his retirement to honor him with a statue outside M&T Bank Stadium.

Lewis is accompanied by Johnny Unitas, and the Baltimore Orioles have six players bronze sculptures of their own inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards. All are deserving of the honor, but if Baltimore is going to celebrate their achievements, Phelps is the most deserving of them all.

This is no knock against the football players and Earl Weaver, Cal Ripken, Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Brooks Robinson. They were great in their own right, but they did not take over the sport like Phelps.

Michael Phelps is Baltimore. He has lived in the area his entire life and his family is invested in Charm City. His mother, Debbie, is a middle school principal in the area. His father, Michael, is a retired state trooper. Unlike many Olympic athletes who move to enhance their skills, Phelps went to school and trained in Baltimore.

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He could have left after the endorsements started coming in after his performance in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. He captured eight medals, six gold and two bronze, and everyone knew he was well on his way to breaking Mark Spitz’s record of gold medals at one Olympics. Not only did he break the record, he rewrote the history books by setting new Olympic and world records in seven of the eight wins. He could have whatever he wanted in life.

He stayed in Baltimore, even when things were not going great. He did not abandon his hometown after an arrest for driving under the influence, not once, but twice. He stuck around after a photo emerged of him hitting a bong while at a party at the University of South Carolina. He could have disappeared from the area and started over elsewhere.

Instead, he is part of the community. He has invested in a home in Canton and can be seen regularly in the area. He has a endorsement deal with Under Armour, arguably Baltimore’s most notable business. He supports the Ravens and Orioles just like every other Baltimorean does.

Where a statue for Phelps would be placed remains to be seen. The Inner Harbor is not exactly a place for swimming – even though some tourists think it is alright to do so despite how disgusting the water is – but that is where the most foot traction is in Baltimore. It could be in Towson, where he was raised, or somewhere else in Baltimore.

If we are going to immortalize the greats of football and baseball, the same should be done with a hometown hero. Ripken is so beloved because he is from Maryland, but Phelps has set the bar higher than any athlete ever has before. Phelps deserves his own statue in Baltimore.

Next: Maryland Athletes Dominating Rio Olympics

The most decorated Olympian of all time makes the United States proud, but Michael Phelps has a special place in our hearts. He is Baltimore and we love him for it. Get his statue up somewhere as soon as possible.