Twenty-five years ago this week, Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s Hall of Fame record by playing 2,131 consecutive games. It was a record that seemed unattainable, even to the man who set it. But the man who called himself “Ironman” stayed focused and worked tirelessly to keep the streak going.

He would play through injuries. He would stay through rain delays and hot days and cold ones, even when the fans began to chant for him to end the streak. He never wavered in his devotion to the game and to his fans, and he never bragged about his record-setting feats.

The story of Ripken’s record-setting streak is one of the most inspirational stories in sports history. It’s also a reminder of how important it is to take care of the people who support you, especially in the most challenging times.

Today, Ripken, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 with the third highest percentage of votes ever, uses his platform to promote the sport he loves worldwide. He owns two minor league baseball teams, the Aberdeen Iron Birds and Augusta Green Jackets, and oversees a marketing company that focuses on baseball. He also established the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which provides children from underserved communities the opportunity to attend baseball camps.

This article originally appeared on The New York Times and has been edited for clarity. For more on this and other stories from The Times, subscribe here. cal ripkin