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Pittsburgh Native Sargent Sparrow Honored by Former Penguin Malone at Olympic Games

by Caitlin Kasunich / Pittsburgh Penguins
As a member of Team USA, former Pittsburgh Penguin and current Tampa Bay Lightning player Ryan Malone faced off in the 2010 Olympic Men’s Hockey Gold Medal Game representing not only his country, but also Pittsburgh native Sergeant Robert Sparrow.

Sparrow had been paired up with Malone as part of Operation Homefront, which had all 23 players on Team USA playing for and representing a soldier wounded in battle in Iraq or Afghanistan. The group helps wounded soldiers to get back on their feet after they return home from their deployment and aids them in finding apartments for their families while they receive medical treatment.

“I was pleased to have Ryan Malone represent me during the games,” Sparrow said. “It was great watching him play again, just like when he played in Pittsburgh. He was a great asset to the team.”

The Gold Medal Game took place on another important day in Sparrow’s life – the day that he was celebrating his wife’s birthday this year. Knowing that her husband loved watching the Penguins and Ryan Malone, Sparrow’s wife got him tickets to Wednesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning for their wedding anniversary.

To see the Pens live is going to be great,” he said. “To see Ryan Malone play is great, too. That is why my wife planned it.”

During the Olympic Games, Malone sent Sparrow an autographed jersey and a personalized letter in honor of his service. Sparrow also said that he plans to give an army hat and a couple of his medals to Malone at Wednesday's game.

Sparrow, who was born in McKees Rocks before moving to Beaver County, played a little bit of hockey in high school but became more involved once he got to college and began playing with his friends. Over the years, Sparrow said that he has always been a fan of watching Team USA compete in the Winter Olympics.

“I love that the U.S. team has had great success in this year’s games,” he said. “It was great to see a team come together and have the time that they did on the ice. I watched most of the Olympic Games and loved watching the U.S. team play the most.”

Sparrow said that he hopes to attend another Penguins game in the near future and was grateful that Malone represented him in the Olympics.

I wish the best of luck to Ryan Malone and his team,” he said. “Thank you for representing me, and I wish the Penguins a great rest of the year.”
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