David Ortiz is without question the most beloved professional athlete ever to play in New England. That's why so many folks feel a personal attachment to the big guy as he goes through his ordeal.

Ortiz, who carried Red Sox Nation on his back and guided the team to three World Series championships, hoisted the rest of the nation to his shoulders after terrorists detonated bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding many more. An angry Papi memorably declared, "This is our f****** city!"

Doesn't matter whether you root for the Sox, the Dodgers, the New York Yankees or no team at all, the world skipped a beat on Sunday night as word broke that Papi had been shot in the Dominican Republic.

David Ortiz is a kind, generous, and jolly soul whose big toothy grin and hearty laugh can make even the most desperate situation look hopeful. His ability to deliver in the clutch both on and off the field is the stuff the legends are made of. As a player, Ortiz loved the game and loved to win for the fans. Whereas so many pro athletes don't get it, Ortiz understood the fans and what it took to please them. He never let them down.

Former teammate Travis Shaw calls Ortiz "Superman" and Kevin Youkilis calls him a "superhero." The GOAT, Tom Brady, says, "Papi defines Boston Strong."

Big Papi is quoted as saying, "Please don't let me die, I am a good man," as he was being wheeled into surgery. Yes, David Ortiz is a good man and that along with his baseball talent is why he is the most beloved pro athlete ever to play in New England.

Get well, Big Papi. Now it's our turn to carry you.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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