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Years later, former teacher still influence for Ross

Years later, former teacher still influence for Ross

DENVER -- Michelle Lewis, the founder and director of Oakland's Northern Light School, says there is one thing you need to know about Padres' All-Star pitcher Tyson Ross.

"Tyson gives the best hugs," Lewis said Monday by phone from Oakland.

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Lewis would certainly know, as she has been the recipient of plenty of them both when Ross attended the non-profit, private school from first grade through the sixth grade and since he left.

In fact, it was an email from Lewis on Sunday -- not long after Ross was named to his first All-Star team -- that really resonated with Ross, though that was hardly surprising, he said.

"The one that always puts a smile on my face," he said of emails received from Lewis. "Her emails are always filled with such emotion. To see someone who helped shape me into who I am today as a person still following me, believing in me and reaching out … it's special."

Lewis said she could still remember the reply Ross gave her as a first-grader when she asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.

"He said he wanted to pitch for the A's," Lewis said.

Ross, of course, did. He was drafted by his hometown A's in 2008 and made his big league debut during the 2010 season.

Lewis, who founded the Northern Light School 25 years ago, remembers the day in November 2012 when the A's traded Ross to the Padres.

"The day he was traded I was so sad, I was so depressed -- I didn't want him to go," Lewis said. "But Vida Blue, who is a dear friend of the school, said, 'Michelle, he's going to the best pitching coach [Darren Balsley] for him.'

"It's true. Look at how he's turned it around."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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