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Pele Was Brazil’s King and a Transcendent Gift to the

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Sports Illustrated

By Jonathan Wilson Pelé stopped playing 45 years ago and died Thursday, but his impact on soccer and his global presence are eternal. In a town in the south of the Brazilian province of Minas Gerais called Don Viçoso, there lived a young widow called Maria Rosalina. She had a baby son and loved him dearly, but he wouldn’t speak. Even when he was 2 years old, he had still not said a word. So Maria Rosalina called together the local benzedeiras, local women who performed rituals on moonlit nights. They gathered around the boy’s cot and intoned the traditional incantation: “Bili-bilu-teteia, Bili…

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